Bipolar disorder major factor in shooting incident

Daniel Blackmon, 38, of Guntersville, was killed near Brooksville on Tuesday morning April 19 in a shootout with law enforcement officers from several area departments. The shootout followed an early morning shooting spree by Blackmon in which he shot into at least four vehicles, one in Marshall County, injuring four occupants, as well as firing randomly at several houses in north Blount County near the Brooksville area.

Following the shooting spree and pursuit by law enforcement, Blackmon fled east on U.S. 278 wrecking his truck near the end of the three-lane east of Brooksville. At that point he continued firing at law enforcement officers, who returned fire, killing him.

As reported by The Birmingham News, Blackmon’s father Randy Blackmon indicated his son suffered from bipolar disorder and had experienced mood swings for several years, but had “seemed OK until a few weeks ago.” The elder Blackmon tried to have his son hospitalized at that time, resulting not in hospitalization, but in an arrangement for his son to enter a long-term care program of therapy and medication, which had not yet begun when the shooting spree occurred.

Bipolar disorder, once called manic depression, is characterized by abnormal emotional highs followed by abnormal bouts of severe depression.

The night before the shootings, Blackmon called his father, who lived nearby, and asked him for help dealing with demons at his house. His father obliged, no demons were found, and father and son drove to Gadsden at the son’s request to show his father “the portal of hell.”

When they returned, the father went home. He came by the next morning, saw the door to his son’s house was open, then went on to work at the family trucking business where both worked. He learned of his son’s shooting spree and death later that morning.

The shooting spree ended the life of a once-promising student offered an engineering scholarship to the University of Alabama Huntsville. Blackmon declined the scholarship, preferring to earn money working with his father as a truck driver.

Blount County Sheriff’s Department Operations Officer Tim Kent said that injuries to the four shooting victims were non-life threatening and relatively minor.“They’re all going to be fine,” he said.

In the hours shortly after the shooting spree last week, police considered Blackmon a “person of interest” in the burning of Cedar Grove Church of Christ on County Road 25 near the Blount/Marshall County line. He has since been cleared in that incident..

Officers from the Blount County Sheriff’s Department, the Guntersville, Arab, and Snead Police Departments, and Alabama State Troopers responded to the shooting incident.