COURTLAND — A seven-hour standoff between law enforcement and a Courtland man who barricaded himself in his residence and sporadically fired gunshots ended Friday afternoon with his death.
Lawrence County Coroner Scott Norwood said Jake Lowell Watts, 36, of 2958 Jefferson St., died of a gunshot wound to the head. He was pronounced dead at 3:20 p.m. and Norwood sent the body to the Alabama Forensics Office in Huntsville for an autopsy.
Authorities did not say what weapon they believe fired the fatal shot. In a written release, the State Bureau of Investigation said it was investigating an officer-involved shooting involving a Florence police officer in Lawrence County. It said no officers were injured in the incident.
The Florence/Lauderdale County SWAT crew surrounded Watts’ residence and more than 20 gunshots were audible at the scene between 6 a.m. and the standoff's conclusion. Authorities didn't say who fired the shots.
The Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office reported the Courtland Police Department received a call about a disturbance at the residence at 5:38 a.m. Friday. When Courtland officers responded, Watts apparently began firing and then barricaded himself in the house.
Living three houses west of the scene, Greg and Lisa Pace said they heard gunfire shortly after 5 a.m. coming from Watts’ residence, a sandstone rock house near Courtland First Baptist Church.
John and Karen Gray live across the street from the scene at Courtland Park Apartments. John Gray said a Lawrence County Sheriff's Office deputy knocked on their door at about 6 a.m. and ordered them to leave immediately. The entire apartment complex was evacuated, he said.
“They said ‘Get your family and go,’ ” he said. “We thought it might have been some sort of martial law ordered because of the coronavirus. All he told us was a man was barricaded in his house with high-powered weapons. We threw on some clothes and left. When we got outside we saw officers with shields and later a sniper was set up near our balcony aiming at that house.
"When we got in the truck to leave, we heard some gunfire and I sped away as fast as I could.”
He said he heard some gunfire from the house Thursday afternoon, too. “We couldn’t tell if the man was shooting just to be shooting,” John Gray said.
About 12:30 p.m., minutes after more shots were heard, Courtland native Chase Hughes, 28, said he didn’t expect a shooting in his neighborhood.
“It’s like Mayberry here,” he said. “Never anything like this happens here. It’s crazy what’s going on.”
The SBI in its release said no more information is available and the investigation is ongoing.
Once complete, findings will be turned over to the Lawrence County District Attorney’s Office, the SBI said.
About 10 SWAT members were assisted by the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office, Courtland Police Department, Moulton Police Department, North Courtland Police Department and Hillsboro Police Department.