By Ashley McCleery
The North Jefferson News
Officer Wayne Lloyd, formerly with the Warrior Police Department, was awarded the 2007 Law Enforcement Valor Award during the Birmingham annual Law Enforcement Appreciation Day luncheon on Sept. 12.
Warrior Police Department Chief Ray Horn said the award recognizes Lloyd’s bravery while performing his duties as a patrol officer for the Warrior Police Department, especially on March 13. “Lloyd put himself in a situation to possibly be killed. He knew what needed to be done and he did it,” Horn said.
When Lloyd received a phone call about a robbery at the Dollar General Store on Highway 31 in Warrior, Lloyd and his fellow officers responded promptly. Although the officers only knew a female employee was on the phone with her boyfriend when she screamed and hung up, they speculated the “Dollar General Robber” was involved.
Dubbed the “Dollar General Robber,” the suspect had robbed 18 other stores in the state, most of which were Dollar Generals. “He was steadily getting worse,” Lloyd said. “He was getting more aggressive, and it kept escalating.” In fact, the suspect had already shot a store manager and attempted to shoot another store manager in his vehicle.
Not only were state police officers searching for the man terrorizing small retail stores but also the Federal Task Force. “He was a wanted man. Everyone in the state was looking for him,” Lloyd said.
After spotting a black male running away from the scene with the robber’s signature red pillowcase, Lloyd and several officers knew this could be their opportunity to catch the suspect.
Seizing their chance, they chased the man on foot behind the Warrior Post Office and into the Advance Auto Parts parking lot. While Lloyd chased him, he tried to use a taser on the suspect, but he missed.
The man then jumped into the driver’s seat of a maroon Buick, which matched the description of the suspect’s vehicle, and started the car.
Standing in front of the car, Lloyd ordered the suspect to get out of the vehicle several times. Instead of following his orders, the man accelerated towards Lloyd. “I knew I was standing in front of a car. I didn’t realize it was his car. When I realized it, I was thinking, ‘He’s gonna run me over. I’m dead.’”
But Lloyd was quick on his feet. He fired 12 rounds into the front windshield, which delayed the suspect and allowed Lloyd to quickly move out of harms way. “Stopping to shoot saved my life,” Lloyd said.
Luckily, Lloyd was not hurt, but the suspect continued driving, exiting the parking lot and speeding onto U.S. 31. Officers from all surrounding areas responded, including the Gulf States Federal Task Force.
The suspect soon lost control of his car, presumably because of his gun shot wounds, drove into the woods off Interstate 65 and flipped. When the officers discovered his car in the woods, he was pronounced dead on scene and identified as the suspect responsible for the Dollar General robberies.
Lloyd said he was glad to end the suspect’s reign, but he wished it didn’t have to end with his death. “He was going to kill somebody eventually. I believe that,” Lloyd said. “If I hadn’t of stopped him, he would have killed me.”
And this bravery is why Horn said Lloyd deserved the valor award. “Wayne is a wonderful officer. He’s experienced and outstanding. We hated to lose him to another department,” Horn said.
Now, Lloyd works at the Irondale Police Department, but he said he loved his 11 years working in Warrior and greatly appreciates this honor.
“It is a major honor considering I’m only one of all the police officers in the 80 other police departments in the Birmingham metropolitan area,” he said. “Even though the situation could have ended differently, it validates the fact that I did a good job and someone appreciates that we risk our lives.”
By Ashley McCleery