AUBURN, Ala. (WRBL) An Auburn police officer shot multiple times in the line of duty continues his recovery at UAB as details emerge regarding a man and woman suspected in the officer’s shooting. Both suspects are now deceased.
The officer was transported to UAB Friday night from East Alabama Medical Center. A massive law enforcement escort accompanied the officer’s ambulance transfer. Multiple agencies blocked off roads as the ambulance traveled from Opelika to Birmingham.
The officer’s name has not been released. He is expected to undergo another surgery on Saturday as the community continues to pray for his recovery. EAMC issued this statement Friday night on behalf of the officer’s family:
“Two of our surgeons have indicated to family and friends that he is stable now. His parents wish to thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers, and especially wishes to thank all law enforcement officers and other first responders involved in tonight’s situation.”
Investigators say Friday, February 15th, around 5:30 pm officers from the Auburn Police Division responded to the 400 block of N Dean Rd about a reported robbery of a business in progress. News 3 has learned the business was a pharmacy. However, police are not releasing the businesses name.
Investigators say after the robbery, a suspect/vehicle description was broadcast to law enforcement. The Auburn officer spotted the vehicle and conducted a traffic stop in the 1100 block of Opelika Rd at the Dollar General.
Investigators say upon approaching the vehicle, the officer was met with gunfire. The officer was struck multiple times. A massive law enforcement presence responded to the Dollar General. The officer was taken to East Alabama Medical Center, where he was alert and talking.
Meanwhile, Dollar General was surrounded by yellow crime scene tape. The wounded officer’s SUV parked in the middle of the parking lot, the driver side door ajar. On the ground, folded envelopes appeared to mark numerous shell casings or other ballistic evidence scattered around the SUV.
Shortly after the shooting, investigators identified 38-year-old Christopher James Wallace as a person of interest. Police say Wallace and a woman were in a silver 2006 Jeep Liberty, Alabama tag 6AB5267 and had fled the scene in an unknown direction. The woman has not been identified.
While News 3 was on the scene at the Dollar General on Opelika Road, an AU Alert was sent out regarding law enforcement activity along Wire Road, just across from the Auburn University Vet School. Another AU Alert indicated shots had been fired in the area and the vet school was placed on lockdown.
News 3 heard several loud blasts and gunshots as we arrived on the Wire Road scene. Shortly after hearing the shots, we began to see and smell smoke coming from a residential complex located on Stonegate Drive, just off Wire Road.
Witnesses told News 3 they heard numerous shots and saw SWAT members swarmed the area. Many residents took cover inside their homes while the incident unfolded. When the shots stopped, residents say agents helped them evacuate to safety while fire crews responded to a nearby unit on fire.
Investigators say the suspect, Christopher Wallace, and an unidentified female suspect were determined to be located at a relatives residence along Stonegate Drive.
“While attempting to make a tactical entry into the residence, the suspect shot at officers, who returned gunfire. Two uninvolved occupants exited the residence uninjured and were detained,” said Captain Lorenzo Dorsey.
Investigators say after being ordered to exit the apartment, the suspects failed to do so. Tear gas and distraction devices were deployed into the residence.
“The suspects refused to exit. Shortly after, a fire erupted inside the apartment. Officers continued to secure the area; however, the suspects never emerged from the apartment, which became fully engulfed in fire. The suspects are believed to have perished in the fire,” said Dorsey.
Lee County Coroner Bill Harris was called to the scene along wire road.
“After the fire was out police, fire and members of the coroner’s office located two deceased persons in a back room of the apartment. Lee County Coroner pronounced both subjects dead at the scene at 11:55 PM. The bodies of the two subjects, a white male, believed to be Christopher James Wallace and an unknown white female, were removed from the fire rubble,” stated Harris.
The bodies will be taken to the medical examiner’s office at the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences in Montgomery for a postmortem examination to determine the cause of death and positive identification.
The SBI of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency is in charge of the investigation at Auburn Police request. The State Fire Marshall’s office was on scene and will assist to determine the cause of the fire.
Officer shooting suspect, considered person of interest in wife’s 2012 disappearance:
News 3 confirmed the suspect in the case, Christopher James Wallace was from the Eufaula area. Wallace was known to Eufaula law enforcement and was considered a person of interest in the 2012 disappearance of his wife, Lisa Altimari-Wallace.
According to recent reports, Lisa Wallace was last seen on October 27, 2012. Her husband (Christopher Wallace) stated they’d argued that afternoon and he took their daughter to his mother’s house. Police say Wallace’s husband claimed she’d packed a bag and left on foot. Lisa Wallace never arrived at work that day and had never been heard from again. Her mother reported her missing. Wallace and her husband had filed for divorce just days before she went missing. Her loved ones believe she met with foul play, as they don’t think she would have abandoned her daughter. Her case remains unsolved.
The Auburn Police Division and surrounding agencies tell News 3 they appreciate the calls of support and prayers for their injured brother in blue.
News 3 will continue to update this story as it develops and let you know if and when an account has been set up to help this officer and his family while he’s recovering.