The following joint press release regarding the series of events at 1700 Elizabeth Street in Anniston on January 12th and 13th is provided by the Anniston Police and Fire Departments and the State Fire Marshals Office, including information from the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office.
On Friday January 12th Calhoun County Deputies attempted to serve a petition of civil commitment on 76 year old Philip Leroy Cooper, the sole resident of 1700 Elizabeth Street. Due to previous actions of Mr. Cooper, the sheriff’s office brought in their Emergency Service Team and requested support of the Anniston Police Department Special Response Team.
Prior to going to the scene, a meeting was held involving the sheriff’s office and police department. Among other decisions, the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office was to secure the outer perimeter while the Anniston Police Department Special Response Team secured the inner perimeter.
After arriving on the scene, law enforcement officers attempted repeatedly to make contact with Mr. Cooper, but were unable to do so. After approximately four hours of attempting to make contact, the decision was made to enter the house. Mr. Cooper had not responded to the law enforcement officers since they arrived on the scene or before they entered the house.
Between 7:30 and 8:00 Friday evening officers of the Anniston Police Department Special Response Team gained entry to the home where they encountered gunfire from Mr. Cooper who was barricaded in the living room. Three Anniston police officers were injured by gunfire and the Special Response Team exited the house.
The District Attorney arrived at the scene. Since the situation had changed from a civil issue to a criminal matter due to the injuries to the three Anniston Police officers, felony warrants were authorized against Mr. Cooper. The felony warrants were obtained charging Mr. Cooper with Assault First Degree.
A mechanical robot entered the house to allow officers to view the interior and to locate Mr. Cooper. Due to a mechanical malfunction, the robot was unable to complete its mission. Attempts to negotiate with Mr. Cooper were also unproductive.
Officers then employed a smoke canister in an effort to recover the robot from the house. Shortly thereafter a fire occurred in the kitchen of the home. Mr. Cooper did not exit the house during the fire and his body was recovered from the basement after the fire was extinguished by the Anniston Fire Department.
Guns belonging to Mr. Cooper, including a 12-gauge shotgun and a .30 caliber carbine, were recovered from the scene following the fire.
Additional details regarding the cause of the fire and the cause of Mr. Cooper’s death will be released following further investigation and receipt of laboratory reports.
The sheriff’s office received the following statement from Mr. Cooper’s family and it is included with this release –
“STATEMENT OF THE FAMILY OF PHILIP COOPER REGARDING THE EVENTS OF JANUARY 12 – 13, 2001
First and foremost, our concern is for the law enforcement officers who were wounded in this incident. Our thoughts are with them and their families. We pray for their complete recovery. We appreciate the efforts and sacrifices made by the law enforcement community, the fire department, and medical support services. In an attempt to help our father, the law officers were serving a court order for medical evaluation. We regret the impact of this tragic incident on the residents of the neighborhood and the community at large. We are grief stricken and shocked by this tragedy. The hope that we hold is that our father is now at peace. The Cooper family asks that the media respect our need for privacy during this difficult time.”