- The Washington Times - Friday, March 13, 2009

GENEVA, ALA. (AP) - The man blamed for the worst massacre in Alabama history was depressed and frustrated with his inability to become a Marine or a police officer, officials said Thursday. Michael McLendon, 28, killed five family members and five others before fatally shooting himself Tuesday.

McLendon had told a confidant in the days before the shootings that he was depressed and unfulfilled, according to Barry Tucker of the Alabama Bureau of Investigation.

“He talked about his depression, his lack of fulfillment in his jobs, in becoming a police officer and in becoming a Marine,” Tucker said.

McLendon had been a Marine briefly but was discharged for falsifying information. Officials said he was released from the police academy because he couldn’t meet some of the physical requirements.

Authorities also said McLendon admitted in a two-page, handwritten letter that he had killed his mother and planned to commit suicide. He mentioned a family dispute over a legal issue but didn’t reveal plans to kill anyone else. Investigators said they found the letter in a mailbox. They would not disclose its intended recipient.

After killing his mother at the house they shared in Kinson, McLendon started a rampage that ended with him taking his own life following a shootout with police in nearby Geneva at Reliable Products, the metals plant where he worked until 2003.

In between, he gunned down three relatives and the wife and 18-month-old daughter of a local sheriff’s deputy on a front porch in Samson. He turned his gun next door and killed his 74-year-old grandmother and sent panicked bystanders fleeing and ducking behind cars.

McLendon then drove off, spraying bullets through the town, killing three more bystanders.

Jerry Conner, chief of the Alabama Bureau of Investigation, said people who spoke to McLendon in the days before the shooting knew he was depressed but did not feel that would prompt violence, even in a man who loved weapons and spent his free time at the local firing range.

“This gives a window into what happened. But this sort of violence and rage, it just boggles the mind,” he said.

County District Attorney Gary McAliley said the only complaint neighbors had about McLendon was that he was constantly behind his home firing a weapon and they were worried about their cows.

“I don’t think anybody could have anticipated this by looking at him and interacting with him,” McAliley said. “But certainly he had a volcano inside of him.”


Associated Press Writer Kate Brumback in Montgomery contributed to this report.

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