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Sheriff’s Office Helicopter Makes Emergency Landing During Search Operations
(For Immediate Release) On March 15, 2018, at approximately 1:15 pm, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office helicopter was assisting in search operations with law enforcement agencies in St. Clair County, searching for signs of a missing kayaker. During the course of aerial operations, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office helicopter came in contact with Alabama Power lines and was forced to make an emergency landing in a field near the Logan Martin Dam. There are no injuries reported at this time. The Federal Aviation Administration and Alabama Power have been notified.
Arrest in Austin Murder
On Wednesday March 7th, 2018, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office reported that a Chelsea resident Tracy Ward Austin, 68 years of age, had been murdered in his home on Monday and asked for the public’s help in the case. Sheriff’s investigators have been working on this around the clock since then and have made an arrest in the case. Randall Anthony Gargone, 62 years of age from Chelsea, has been charged with “Capital Murder” and is being held without bond in the Shelby County Jail. Gargone has been previously convicted of armed robbery and other felony offenses.
Sheriff Samaniego wants to thank everyone who provided tips and information as well as the many men and women who worked to solve this homicide. He would also like to express his sincere condolences again to Mr. Austin’s friends and family. He will meet with the media at 4:00 p.m. this afternoon at the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office’s north sub-station located at 5511 Highway 280, in the Greystone Parc complex.
While the arrest of Gargone is significant, the Sheriff’s Office’s investigation will continue all the way through prosecution. There may still be witnesses who have not come forward for any number of reasons. We still want to talk with anyone who has any information about Mr. Austin’s murder.
If you know anything about this case, please contact the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office directly at (205)669-4181, through the Secret Witness line at (205)669-9116 or through our website at www.ShelbySO.com by clicking on the “Report Criminal Activity” link and choosing the “General Information” category.
For information on the charge of Capital Murder, go to the link below and select Title13A Criminal Code, Chapter 5 Punishments and Sentences, and Section 40 Capital Offenses –
To view a Shelby County inmate’s picture, their charges and bonds, go to www.ShelbySO.com and click on the “Inmate Listing” link at the bottom left. You may then type in the inmates last name and click on the “Search” button or, if you are unsure of the exact spelling, select the first letter of the last name to search for the inmate. An inmate’s information will not be available until he has been booked into the facility.
Update to Chelsea Death Investigation
On Monday March 5th, 2018, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office reported that deputies responded to a residence in the 5800 block of Shelby County Highway 39 in Chelsea to investigate a reported death. As released Monday, upon arrival deputies discovered one of the residents of the home was dead. The deceased has now been positively identified as Tracy Ward Austin, 68 years of age, from Chelsea, Alabama, and his death has been determined to be a homicide. The Shelby County Coroner’s Office and Sheriff’s investigators have been actively working trying to determine what caused Austin’s death and who may be responsible for it. They need the public’s help.
The victim in this case died sometime Monday. The home is located close to the very busy intersection of Shelby County Highway 69 and Shelby County Highway 39 and someone may be a witness without knowing it. If anyone traveled either of those roads on Monday, after approximately 7:00 a.m., and saw anything suspicious, please contact the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office directly at (205)669-4181, through the Secret Witness line at (205)669-9116 or through our website at www.ShelbySO.com by clicking on the “Report Criminal Activity” link and choosing the “General Information” category.
If you know who killed Tracy Ward Austin or have more information about this murder and want to remain anonymous, call CrimeStoppers at (205)254-7777. A cash reward of up to $5,000 may be possible for information in this case.
At approximately 4:30 p.m. on Monday March 5th, 2018, Shelby County Sheriff's deputies responded to a residence in the 5800 block of Shelby County Highway 39 to investigate a death. Responding deputies located the deceased and notified investigators who responded to the scene. There are no other details available at this time as investigators, with the Shelby County Coroner's Office, are trying to determine the cause of death.
This release will be updated as more information is available.
Shelby County Highway 11 Closed
At 10:00 p.m. on Monday February 12, 2018, Shelby County Sheriff's deputies closed Shelby County Highway 11 to all traffic while the Sheriff's Office investigates an accident where a pedestrian was struck by a train and killed. Sheriff's investigators are on the scene. It is anticipated thet the roadway will be closed for a couple of hours until they complete their investigation.
Local traffic is being rerouted at Shelby County Highway 36 and local motorists are encouraged to find alternate routes.
Upcoming Railroad Crossings Closures
Norfolk Southern will be working on some local railroad crossings the end of this month. Please make note of these closings, between morning and afternoon school bus traffic:
Monday, January 29th: Crossing on County Road 10 in Montevallo
Wednesday, January 31st: Crossing on County Road 17 in Maylene
Thursday, February 1st: Crossing on County Road 22 in Calera
Notices will be posted at each crossing.
Administrative Offices Open
On Thursday January 18,2018, the Shelby County Sheriff's Office's administrative offices will open at normal business hours to the public. Employees are encouraged to drive cautiously and notify their supervisor if they have specific situations that will not allow them to travel.
Administrative Offices Closed Today
On Wednesday January 17, 2018, the Shelby County Sheriff's Office's administrative offices will be closed all day due to the hazardous road conditions. A decision will be made later today as to tomorrow's schedule. This release and our webpage will be updated with that information at that time.
Anyone traveling in or through Shelby County is encouraged to use caution and avoid unnecessary travel.
On Wednesday January 17, 2018, the Shelby County Sheriff's Office will delay opening all administrative offices until 12:00 p.m. today. Civilian employees should report at that time. This has no effect on calls for service and emergencies as all sworn deputies and Shelby County 911 employees are operating normally.
Sheriff Samaniego will continue to monitor the weather and roadway conditions. If there are any further changes to this plan our release will be updated here.
Administrative Offices Closing at Noon Today
Archive of Past News
At 12:00 p.m. on Tuesday January 16, 2018, the Shelby County Sheriff's Office will close its administrative offices and allow civilian employees to go home in anticipation of potential roadway hazards. This decision does not affect calls for service from our sworn deputies and we remain on duty to assist the public. Emergencies should be directed to 911.
If this winter weather event does create hazardous conditions on our roads, the public is encouraged to shelter in place unless traveling is unavoidable. In those cases, drivers should be cautious.
The decision of whether or not to open our administrative offices tomorrow at normal business hours will be made later tonight and that notice will be made public.