The 80-year-old security guard shot dead on the job in an opencast mine in Jefferson County, west, is remembered as a man of faith, wisdom and a great love for his extended family.
Samuel Owens Bell Jr. was one of two security guards shot dead at the Drummond Company mine in the 4000 block of Blue Creek Road. The shootings took place about six hours apart on Wednesday morning.
Bell was pronounced dead at the scene at 6:46 a.m. The other victim, a 44-year-old man who authorities said was shot around 1 a.m., managed to get away from the scene of the shooting. and get help.
Bell’s vehicle went missing but was later spotted in Cullman County and a chase ensued in Winston County where the driver was found dead with what authorities said was a gunshot wound self-inflicted.
The Winston County Coroner’s Office on Monday identified the suspect as Steven Chad Wright. He was 45 years old and lived in McCalla. Court records show he had a long history of drug arrests and had outstanding arrest warrants in Tuscaloosa County at the time of his death.
Jefferson County Sheriff’s Sgt. Joni Money said MPs earlier in the week helped Lakeview Police pursue a stolen vehicle they believed was stolen by Wright. However, it has not been located.
Authorities investigated a burglary in Adger on Tuesday where guns were taken. Those stolen guns, Money said, matched the guns used in Wednesday’s shooting.
Investigators said there was no known link between Wright and the victims.
Bell had been a security guard for over 15 years after retiring as a truck driver. He was born and raised in Muscoda in western Jefferson County and had been married to his wife for 33 years.
He had seven children, 21 grandchildren and over 40 great grandchildren.
His family posted this statement on AL.com after his death: “Samuel Bell was a loving husband, father, grandfather and brother among many other titles he held. He is best remembered as a man as tall and strong as a mighty oak tree with a voice as deep and heavy as the rolling thunder.
“Samuel was a man of faith, a believer and a disciple of God. Having lived 80 years of life, he was full of wisdom and advice that he was always ready to share whether you wanted to hear it or not. He loved his family and lived his life taking care of them. There was nothing you would come across in life that he couldn’t tell or teach you.
“Sam was a tall guy with a great baritone voice whose favorite holiday song was ‘Silent Night’. If you ever heard him sing, it would be like hearing the doors of heaven open.
The ordeal began around 1 a.m. last Wednesday when the sheriff’s office received a call forwarded to them from the Bessemer Police Department, reporting that a man had been shot.
The 44-year-old victim was able to drive to a location on Powder Plant Road, where he contacted authorities. Money said the victim was then taken to hospital but was unable to speak to detectives.
Medical staff gave detectives the information they were able to get from the victim and determined that the shooting occurred near the 4000 block of Blue Creek Road.
This victim remains hospitalized in stable condition.
Then at around 6:40 a.m., MPs were again dispatched to the 4000 block of Blue Creek Road, this time over a report of a deceased person. The body of the second victim was located by contractors who arrived at the open pit to work.
MPs have arrived to find Bell dead from an apparent gunshot wound. It was officially delivered at 6:46 a.m.
The victim’s black 2005 Cadillac Escalade SUV, tagged Alabama 1CT7896, had been removed from the scene.
At around 12:45 p.m., Cullman County Sheriff’s Deputies observed a suspicious vehicle, Cullman County MP Chad Whaley said.
During the investigation of the vehicle, it was determined that the vehicle was allegedly stolen and involved in a homicide in Jefferson County.
The suspect – now identified as Wright – refused to stop and tried to escape the deputies. The chase continued on Route 278 westbound. Ultimately, the suspect vehicle stalled as the suspect continued to try to evade law enforcement.
Wright fled on foot and stole another vehicle, Whaley said. The pursuit continued to Winston County.
Other law enforcement agencies became involved in the lawsuit. The Addison Police Department managed to deploy spiked tapes and ultimately disable the vehicle.
After the vehicle was stopped and the chase was over, MPs discovered that Wright had died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.