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Shooting death investigated in Georgiana

Agents from five separate divisions of law enforcement are reviewing evidence following the death of an 86-year-old man found dead from an apparent gunshot wound at his residence in Georgiana Thursday evening.

Georgiana Police Chief James Blackmon said the case was so puzzling enough that he promptly called for outside agency assistance.

"At approximately 2:16 p.m. Thursday, we received a call from the Butler County Communications District (E-911) requesting we respond to check on a 911-Hang Up' call at 806 Meeting Avenue," Blackmon said late Thursday night. "When we arrived at the location, we found a victim, Rufus Shanks, age 86 in the residence. He appeared to have sustained a gunshot wound."

Blackmon said emergency medical services (EMS) was requested immediately, and upon their arrival and examination, it was determined that the victim was in fact deceased.

"I determined that we were going to need extra assistance in this case, so I contacted Chief Deputy Kenny Harden from the Butler County Sheriff's Office to assist us with a death investigation, while my dispatcher called for the coroner to respond," Blackmon said. After Chief Harden arrived, and assessed the scene, he contacted District Attorney John Andrews."

Blackmon said Andrews responded to the scene to offer his assistance.

"After the District Attorney and Coroner Wayne Garlock arrived, we called for more assistance, on the advice of Chief Harden n he (Harden) recommended we use every available resource to ensure a complete evaluation."

The Alabama Bureau of Investigation was called, and an investigator responded, as did the ABI Crime Scene Response Unit. The Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences also responded.

Blackmon said one weapon was recovered at the scene.

"We recovered a rifle from the scene n it will be sent to the state's crime lab at the Department of Forensic Sciences for processing," he said.

According to neighbors, Shanks, a retired propane gas delivery driver, was in poor health.

"He had bad heart trouble, and his kidneys were failing rapidly," one neighbor said. "Rufus never met a stranger n he never hurt a fly, and he loved the opportunity to speak to everyone he met n it is such a tragedy."

Blackmon said he wanted to express his appreciation to all agencies involved in rendering assistance so quickly.

"We appreciate the assistance of the Butler County Sheriff's office, and especially the investigative skills of Chief Deputy Harden, and of the Alabama Bureau of Investigation, and the Butler County district attorney. It is a good feeling to know that a small community with limited resources can call upon so many professionals to assist, and they quickly come to help."

Blackmon also said he was proud of the asset the citizens of the county have with enhanced emergency communications, through the Butler County Communications District.

"Many people are unaware of the vast amount of information we can provide to emergency responders anytime we receive a call," said Janice Stamps, director of Butler County E-911. "With our advanced mapping and computerized database, we are able to send units out to any call we receive, even without ever hearing the first word over the phone."

Stamps said that was in fact the case with this call.

"We were only able to determine from the call that there was something wrong at the residence, but it is our firm policy to send a unit to investigate every call we receive, whether someone speaks or not n that is really the design of our system, to get help out to our citizens whenever we receive a call."

Chief Blackmon said the case remains under investigation.

"The victim's body was taken to the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences in Montgomery, where an autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of death, and the case is also still under investigation by the Georgiana Police Department, Butler County Sheriff's Office, and the Alabama Bureau of Investigation."