Daily photo by Gary Lloyd|
Decatur police investigator Mike Neville at the scene of Thursday’s Lindo Avenue Southwest shooting. The driver of the car, Windy Pruitt of Decatur, was forced off the street and then shot through the driver-side window with a shotgun, police said.
shot in head
Victim in critical condition; husband surrenders to police; 2 Decatur schools locked down
By Chris Paschenko
An 11-hour hunt for a Decatur man accused of shooting his pregnant wife in the head with a shotgun ended without incident Thursday when he surrendered to authorities.
Michael Lamont Pruitt, 29, presented himself at the Morgan County Jail, where he was arrested at 8 p.m. and charged with first-degree domestic violence, said Decatur police Detective Chris Jones, who made the arrest.
Pruitt’s wife, Windy Pruitt, who in 2006 sought protection from domestic abuse, remained in critical condition with the fate of her unborn child unknown.
Lt. Chris Mathews, a Decatur police spokesman, said a shotgun blast wounded Windy Pruitt, 27, after shattering her car window on Lindo Avenue Southwest.
Billy Hudson said he peered from the window of his Towerview Street home to investigate what sounded like a gunshot.
“I heard a big boom and saw a white car pulling over to the side of the road with a gray (Chevrolet) S-10 pickup extended cab right behind it,” Hudson said.
Mathews said police received the shooting call at 9:04 a.m. Officers found Windy Pruitt’s car partially off the road with its front bumper resting against a neighborhood-watch sign.
The driver window was shattered, with glass on the ground, and investigators may have spoken to the victim as a medical crew loaded her onto a stretcher and placed her in an ambulance.
“The victim was shot while driving the white Toyota Camry,” Mathews said. “A shotgun was used and struck her in the upper torso and head area. She was taken by ambulance to Decatur General Hospital and stabilized and later flown by MedFlight to Huntsville Hospital.”
Nearby Austinville Elementary School’s principal briefly placed the school on a modified lockdown, said Phil Hastings, supervisor of safety for Decatur schools.
Talmadge Layton, who has lived next to the shooting scene since 1972, said he didn’t hear the blast. He said his neighborhood had been devoid of violence.
As the search for Michael Pruitt ensued, police released a jail mug shot of him, saying investigators wanted to question him about the shooting. Police said he was last seen driving a blue sport utility vehicle. Mathews said he didn’t immediately know whether a third vehicle was involved.
A tip led police to the new SUV, which was parked at a residence in the 1500 block of Simmons Drive Southwest. After police towed the SUV to a secure location, a crime-scene investigator entered the home and left with bulging, envelope-size evidence bags.
Pearl Cuomo, who has lived on Simmons Drive for nine years, said she has seen the SUV in the driveway of that home within the past week.
Court documents from last year list a Buckingham Gate Southwest address for the Pruitts. They also show a kidnapping charge and two assault charges against Michael Pruitt that were dismissed after the victim, a Hartselle woman, declined to pursue them. The kidnapping and assault charges involved a mop handle and shotgun.
Michael Pruitt pleaded guilty in 2003 to unauthorized use of a vehicle, court records show.
After 21 months of marriage, Windy Pruitt sought a protection-from-abuse order and a divorce in October 2006, saying in court documents that Michael Pruitt threatened her life, shot a gun above her head and beat her on multiple occasions, prompting medical treatment.
Circuit Judge Glenn Thompson ordered Michael Pruitt not to abuse, harass, stalk or threaten her and to stay away from her home and workplace. She was given temporary custody of their child.
As the search for Michael Pruitt reached midday, officials placed Julian Harris Elementary School on a modified lockdown. Mathews said Pruitt has a daughter enrolled there, but officers removed the child to protective custody.
Although a Huntsville Hospital spokeswoman said she had no information on Windy Pruitt, police said she was listed in critical but stable condition there. Police didn’t know the condition of her unborn child.
Jones said he and detective Jim Buchli took Michael Pruitt to the Decatur City Jail, where he remained without bond.
If convicted of the Class A felony, Pruitt could face from 10 years to life in prison and up to a $60,000 fine.
Pruitt had an unrelated charge in Decatur of failing to appear on a disorderly conduct charge.
Staff Writer Bayne Hughes contributed to this story.
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