01/03/2004

Two Athens, Ala. Officers Shot to Death

Officer Down: Larry Wayne Russell - Tony Mims - [Athens, Alabama]

The Associated Press

ATHENS, Ala. - Two police officers responding to a call from a man asking to speak to the FBI were shot to death in an apparent ambush Friday. A suspect was in custody.

Sgt. Larry Wayne Russell and Officer Tony Mims were shot with an assault rifle when they arrived at the home Friday afternoon, said Wayne Harper, police chief of Athens, a northern Alabama town of about 19,000.

Mims, who never got out of his patrol car, was pronounced dead at the scene. Russell died after being flown by helicopter to Huntsville Hospital.

"Such a loss," Harper said. "Such a senseless thing. Such a terrible thing."

Farron Barksdale, 28, surrendered without incident to officers who arrived minutes after the shooting. He was jailed Friday night and was charged with two counts of capital murder.

Russell, 42, was a 19-year veteran of the police department. Mims, 40, had been on the force for 15 years. They were the first Athens police officers shot on duty since 1968.

Harper said someone called 911 from the home twice Friday before the shooting, first asking for the FBI and then asking for police if FBI agents were not available.

Barksdale told investigators he had been drinking vodka Thursday night and Friday, and had been suicidal, Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely said.

Harper said police had answered calls at the house before, but he did not know the reason.

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