Selmont shooting

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 3, 2006

Second suspect arrested

By Victor Inge

The Selma Times-Journal

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A second gunman was arrested Thursday in connection with this week’s Selmont shooting that left one man dead and two injured, shortly after the first alleged shooter learned it may be a while before he gets out of jail.

District Judge Robert Armstrong set alleged shooter Sanchez Manuel’s bond at $1 million, saying the 25-year-old was both a flight risk and “a danger to the community.”

Manuel was arrested Tuesday, less than 24 hours following the bloody shooting outside some apartments on Riverside Drive where Manuel opened fire on four men. Three of the four men were shot and one died. They told police they were on their way to help their cousin, Eric Lamond Craig, who’d called them for backup against rival alleged drug dealers.

On Thursday, SPD Detective Frederick Walker announced Eric Craig, 33, had been arrested in the shooting as well. He is also charged with murder and two counts of assault, and is being held in the Dallas County Jail without bond.

Armstrong attempted to make sense of it all during Manuel’s bond hearing Thursday morning. Manuel admitted to opening fire on the vehicle and told the judge he didn’t have any choice. Once the pieces were sorted out, the judge attempted to send a message. Manuel’s bond was set at $500,000 for the murder charge and $250,000 each for the two attempted murder charges.

Police testified “Mook” Manuel was left outside the apartment “to stand guard” while Eric Craig dressed upstairs. When backup arrived, because of the darkness, Manuel told police he didn’t recognize them and felt threatened after seeing four men get out with guns.

Kelly Craig, 23, was pronounced dead at Vaughan Regional Medical Center. Michael Craig, 30, and Gary Craig, 28, were injured in the shooting. Michael Craig was released from the hospital on Wednesday, and Gary Craig was transported to Jackson Hospital in Montgomery by ambulance.

More details of the shooting came out Thursday during Manuel’s bond hearing. Police said Kelly Craig was apparently shot with a 7.62 mm cartridge from the assault rifle Manuel used, which “made a pin hole is his back,” and a gaping exit wound in his front torso.

Police testified the assault rifle, now in police custody, was obtained by Eric Craig, who said he found it after the same men he feared were fought off last Saturday. Police said Eric Craig then went to Wal-Mart and purchased ammunition for it.

Manuel, clad in leg irons and dressed in Dallas County blues, has cooperated with authorities in the investigation, giving a three-page statement taken by investigators, and expressing regret. He said it was dark and he was defending himself.

“They all jumped out with guns in their hands,” Manuel told the court. “I had no other choice.”

Armstrong told Manuel he empathized with his regret, but a life had been taken – whether he intended to or not.

“Any gunfire in our community is bad, whether you intended to kill your friends or not,” Armstrong said. “There were kids in the neighborhood, and innocent people could have been shot. It’s got to stop. It’s outrageous. It’s just outrageous.”

Manuel’s preliminary hearing was set for Nov. 30. Eric Craig will be next to go before Armstrong in district court, where his bond will be set.

Assistant District Attorney Shannon Lynch asked the court for an excessive bond, displaying several failure to appear warrants Manuel had outstanding for traffic citations from Birmingham to Washington County, and the extremely violent nature of the crime.

Armstrong took the evidence under advisement and issued the ruling on Manuel’s bond later Thursday afternoon.