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Hero Down: Bibb County Sheriff’s Deputy Brad Johnson Murdered By Gunman During Vehicle Pursuit

By Holly Matkin and Sandy Malone

Birmingham, AL – Bibb County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) Deputy Brad Johnson died in the line of duty on Thursday after being shot in the head during a motor vehicle pursuit on Wednesday night.

The incident began on the evening of June 29 after Deputy Johnson, 32, and BCSO Deputy Chris Poole, 30, spotted a suspected stolen vehicle, WVTM reported.

The deputies pursued the vehicle until the driver – later identified as 26-year-old convicted felon Austin Patrick Hall – opened fire on them along Highway 25 in the Brierfield area, Yellowhammer News reported.

Deputy Johnson was shot in the head and Deputy Poole was also wounded, WTVM reported.

The deputies were transported to University of Alabama Birmingham Hospital for treatment.

A 16-agency manhunt ensued with local, state, and federal law enforcement officers working together to track down the gunman.

The U.S. Marshals Service announced that Hall had been captured on Thursday morning.

Bibb County District Attorney Michael Jackson said Hall was apprehended in the Bulldog Bend area of Bibb County at about 8:50 a.m. on June 30, Yellowhammer News reported.

Jackson said that Hall has an extensive criminal history that dates back to 2012.

Hall also escaped from a Wilcox County work release facility in 2019 while serving a 10-year sentence for a 2018 theft of property conviction, 1819 News reported.

He was indicted in May on 10 charges of second-degree receiving stolen property, reckless endangerment, second-degree assault, illegally carrying a firearm, drug possession, resisting arrest, attempting to elude, and third-degree burglary in Calhoun County, but was out on bond when he opened fire on the deputies.

Deputy Poole survived the attack and was released from the hospital to continue his recovery at home on Thursday, The Birmingham News reported.

Deputy Johnson’s father, Steven Johnson, told WTVM on Thursday morning that his son’s brain activity was minimal and that “unless a miracle happens,” doctors would take the fallen hero off life support later in the afternoon, NBC News reported.

Deputy Johnson, a K9 handler who served the BCSO for more than seven years, was also an organ donor.

He was surrounded by his family when he was pronounced dead at 3:18 p.m., WBMA reported.

He leaves behind his fiancé and his two children.

“We ask that you continue to remember Deputy Brad Johnson’s family in your prayers,” Bibb County Sheriff Jody Wade said, according to The Birmingham News. “It’s been said that a coward dies a thousand deaths, but a hero but one. Brad Johnson was a hero.”

In addition to his service as a law enforcement officer, Deputy Johnson was also a former volunteer firefighter.

Lakeview Fire Board President Brandon Jones said Deputy Johnson “grew up in this department” after becoming a volunteer firefighter explorer at the age of 14, WBRC reported.

He eventually became a lieutenant with the fire department.

“Please pray for Brad’s family and friends,” Jones said.

Centreville Mayor Mike Oakley said Deputy Johnson and Deputy Poole are two of the best law enforcement officers in all of Bibb County, The Birmingham News reported.

“They’re friends and community leaders,” Oakley said.

Steven Johnson, Deputy Johnson’s father, said in a Facebook post on Thursday afternoon that he had just spoken with his son shortly before the fatal shooting.

“This is the toughest thing I have had to do,” the grieving father wrote. “This is the SON that called me just a few hours before hand to ask me to help him find a good place for a beach trip. A son that loved playing the guitar, fishing, riding four wheelers, and so much more. This is not the way your day is suppose to end. Blue line forever…”

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Bibb County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Brad Johnson, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.

Deputy Brad Johnson, your life mattered.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin


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