- Associated Press - Friday, May 13, 2016

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - Witnesses to a shooting that killed a mother and wounded four of her eight children described a chaotic, bloody scene that they said they never saw coming.

When the gunfire started Wednesday night, an 8-year-old girl woke up her 6-year-old sister, dragged her into a closet, put her hand over her mouth and told her to hush while their father, 36-year-old Sedrick Norris, fired wildly from a rifle. Another child, an 11-year-old boy shot in the hand and the thigh, ran to a neighbor’s home for help. Bullet holes riddled the modest home in Birmingham, and an SUV parked outside.

And 34-year-old Coral Wilson, who just two months ago sought court protection against her longtime boyfriend after he pushed her and one of the kids on Valentine’s Day, lay dead on the living room floor.

“All I saw was people running and I heard the shots,” said Antonio McGhee, who lives in apartments next door to the home where the shooting occurred. “I saw a little boy fall to the ground and I picked him up and took him in the house. He was just saying, “I can’t believe my daddy shot me.”

Friends and family are trying to make sense of it all. “We’re obviously very stunned and shocked,” the Rev. Keith Thompson of First United Methodist Church, where the family has been attending for at least five years, said Thursday. “It’s a situation where we’re all trying to get our heads around it.”

The four children were hospitalized. Police and friends said the most seriously injured was the 12-year-old girl who was shot in the chest. Though initially critical, police said she was stable and expected to survive. A 5-year-old boy was shot in the jaw, an 8-year-old girl was grazed in the leg and the 11-year-old boy was shot in the hand and upper leg or hip.

Wilson’s four other children, ages 13, 9, 6 and eight months weren’t injured. The oldest girl is with family and the other three are in Department of Human Resources custody, according to friends. The 13-year-old daughter posted Rest in Peace to her mother on Facebook on Thursday.

Jailed without bond, Norris is charged with capital murder in Wilson’s death because of the existing restraining order, and with attempted murder in the wounding of the four children. Court records weren’t available Friday to show whether Norris has an attorney to speak on his behalf.

The shooting happened about 10 p.m. Wednesday. Norris, who is the father of their eight children, was in custody within six hours, found asleep under a pile of clothes in the front seat of a parked car. “According to the officers who put handcuffs on him, he was compliant and actually seemed relieved to be arrested,” said Birmingham Police Chief A.C. Roper.

The couple had a history of domestic violence. The couple had been in court several times on child support issues dating back to 2003 and, in March, Wilson filed for protection from abuse saying her Norris had pushed her on Feb. 14, knocking her and the 9-year-old to the floor after they fell over a table. Friends said the couple had argued, but there had been no physical violence until the past several months.

LaShundra Guss was at the home Wednesday night helping Wilson, who suffered from lupus, take care of the kids. Guss said she had fixed the children lasagna for dinner and was helping to get them ready. One of the girls was to have Awards Day at school, so Guss fixed her hair and picked out an outfit for her to wear. “I wanted her looking nice,” Guss said.

About 8 p.m., Norris showed up at the home despite the restraining order. “He came and kicked in the door,” Guss said. “He said, ‘Let me see my children.’ I said, ‘Sed, look, you got them upset and they’re crying. Please leave. You know you don’t supposed to be here. Don’t make me call the police because if I call the police, you know you’re going to jail.’”

Guss said Norris then asked if she would fix his hair. “I said, ‘Dude, I’m not touching you,’” she said. “I should have called the police and maybe my friend would still be here.”

Eventually Norris left and Guss left as well to go next door to take care of her own mother. Wilson made Guss promise to come back. “You sure you’re coming back?” Wilson asked Guss. “I don’t want him coming back here to kill me.”

Guss said she went home where she gave her cancer-stricken mother medicine, put her in bed and turned on her oxygen. She then prepared to go back to Wilson’s house. “By the time I made it to the door, I heard pop, pop, pop. You could hear the shots,” Guss recalled. “I said, ‘Mama, he’s around there shooting.”

She ran to the door, and there was 11-year-old Sedrick Norris Jr. bleeding. “He said, “TT, I’m hit,’” Guss said. “I said, ‘What do you mean you’re hit?’ He said, ‘My dad shot me.’”

Guss said she saw a hole in young Sedrick’s hand, and then noticed he was bleeding elsewhere. “Blood was leaking everywhere from this baby,” she said. They put him on the couch and started to tend to his wounds.

Antonio McGhee grabbed three towels and he and Guss wrapped Sedrick’s wounds and applied pressure to them. “I got water and kept pouring water on him so he wouldn’t fall asleep,” McGhee said. “They said if I didn’t do what I did, that little boy would have died right there.”

Guss said it appeared young Sedrick was going to faint, and she pleaded with the boy to stay with her. “I said ‘Don’t you stop talking to me,’ and he was like, ‘Ok, TT, I’m going to keep talking.’ He went to naming his sisters and brothers who were shot. One of the babies was shot in the bed.”

Police eventually brought the other children who weren’t wounded to Guss’s apartment, where they recounted for her what happened including two of the sisters cowering in the closet. “She saved her sister’s life,” Guss said.

Guss said she still didn’t realize the gravity. “I didn’t know my friend was in there dead,” she said.

Friends said Norris called another friend on Wednesday night and asked her to go to get his gun for him but she refused. Malva Henry said she knew Wilson had Norris’ gun stored at the home. “She did tell me she had his gun,” Henry said. “I think in her mind, as long as she had the gun, he wouldn’t hurt her.”

Friends describe Wilson as sweet, funny and fiercely devoted to her children. Norris, they said, also said he loved the kids.

“The proof is in the pudding,” Guss said. “If you love your children, there’s no way you’re going to kill their mama and shoot your children. That’s not love.”

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