Strong storms moving through the state this morning has left thousands of people without power and forced schools to delay opening as a precaution. Alabama Power Company said about 7,000 homes and businesses are in the dark early Tuesday, mostly in the western part of the state. Officials say numerous trees are down near Fayette and in heavily wooded Winston County in northwest Alabama, but no injuries are reported. Forecasters say winds up to 60 miles per hour are possible in central and south Alabama as a cold front collides with warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico.
Standoff in Dale County
Numerous police agencies, state troopers, FBI agents and SWAT teams and negotiators remain at a rural property in Dale County in southeast Alabama where a man is holed up in a bunker after fatally shooting the driver of a school bus and fleeing with a 6-year-old child passenger. Authorities says the shooting happened on the school bus Tuesday afternoon about 3:30 p.m. and the standoff continues today. Dale County Sheriff Wally Olsen said the man boarded the stopped school bus in the town of Midland City and shot the driver when he refused to let the child off the bus. The driver later died of his wounds. The deceased driver's name was not released. Dale County coroner Woodrow Hilboldt said the suspect is believed to be in an underground shelter on his property, located off U.S. Highway 231.
A National Institute of Corrections report was the focus of a Joint Prison Committee meeting Tuesday at the Alabama Statehouse. State Prison Commissioner Kim Thomas presented the committee with a 60-point plan to address the issues laid out in the study of Tutweiler Prison for Women. The report found that prisoners have reported sexual abuse claims that weren't properly handled; that staffers aren't trained well enough and that the Wetumpka facility is dirty and overcrowded. Brian Stevenson is the director of the Equal Justice Initiative, the advocacy group that filed a complaint against the state Department of Corrections over conditions at the facility. He is pleased with the planned improvements, but says long-term solutions will take time. The four legislators present at the meeting agreed that problems will continue in Alabama's prison system until the Department of Corrections is adequately funded.
Alabama Homeland Security Director Spencer Collier says a critical state computer network was hacked earlier this month and has led to a criminal investigation. Collier said at a news conference Tuesday that the cyber intrusion was discovered by employees of the Alabama Information Services Divison who found that the firewall protecting the computer system had been breached. Collier and ISD Director Jack Doane releaesd few details of the incident at Tuesday's news conference. Collier said the personal information of private citizens was not believed to have been stolen.