Theater co-owner shot and killed

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 3, 2005

Underneath the shining marquee, Selma Police officers and the Dallas County Coroner draped sheets to protect the body of Cahaba Twin Theaters co-owner/manager William Dinkins from the view of the gathering crowd.

As the detectives and Coroner Alan Dailey examined the body, one of the Theater employees pushed through the dozens of onlookers and slipped under the yellow police tape surrounding the theatre entrance and parking lot.

Holding her hands to her head, she screamed wordlessly and collapsed to the ground.

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“Oh, God, Oh God, let me be,” she moaned to those that ran to her aid. “I want to see him.”

Her coworkers and Selma Firefighters restrained her and led her to a nearby car.

Dinkins, known as “Billy,” died when an unidentified person shot him in front of the theater entrance at about 6:30 p.m., according to police.

According to the sign on the box office, Dinkins was shot just after the evening showing of “Hotel Rwanda” began.

Police say witnesses saw the suspect, a man, run from the scene.

“We’ve got a general description of somebody at this time,” SPD Public Relations Officer Lt. David Evans said. “We would like to ask anybody in the public who may have seen anything to please contact us.”

Evans said police don’t know why the 50-year-old Dinkins was shot, but he said robbery was a possible motive in Selma’s first murder of the year.

Some people were working inside the theater at the time of the shooting, but Evans didn’t know how many. None of the others were harmed, he said.

Michele Adams, one of the theaters employees, said she was supposed to work last night, but was told not to come in until Thursday.

Adams, a 16-year-old part-time worker, said Dinkins was close to all of his employees.

“He was like my best friend,” she said. “He was a great guy. It won’t hit me until the funeral.”

Dinkins, she said, bought his employees dinner every night at local fast food restaurants.

Dinkins was a well-known businessman with strong family connections to the area.

Both his grandfather and great-grandfather served as Presidents at Selma University. Dinkins went into a partnership to run the theater with owner Alston Keith in November after Keith’s previous partner retired from the business.

Evans said Dinkins’ body would be transported to Williams Brothers Funeral Home before going to the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences for an autopsy.

One bystander said she knew of the Dinkins family and was sorry for their loss.

“This is a disgrace,” Belinda Huff said. “I don’t know what Selma’s coming to.”

Anyone with information on this crime, is encouraged to call the SPD secret witness line 874-2190.