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Tuscaloosa Police Look for Answers in Shooting

90.3 WBHMTuscaloosa's police chief says yesterday’s shooting in a downtown bar may have involved a dispute between rival motorcycle gangs. Chief Steve Anderson says the suspect, 44-year old Nathan Van Wilkins (pictured above), turned himself in yesterday afternoon. At least 17 people were hurt in the incident, many wounded by bullets that ricocheted through the bar or by glass shards and brick chunks that fell around the nightclub. Van Wilkin has been linked to other incidents. Authorities say he also allegedly shot someone at a private home about 45 minutes before the bar shooting and is suspected of setting fire to equipment and property owned by his former employer, an oil and gas company. There are signs Wilkins' life was unraveling. He divorced his wife of 16 years in 2005, and last year a credit union tried to garnish he wages but couldn’t because he’d declared bankruptcy. For more on the shooting, click here.

In other news:

More fireworks in the Birmingham Board of Education. At last night’s meeting, board members defied explicit state orders and voted to fire superintendent Craig Witherspoon. Board member Tyrone Belcher voted in favor of firing Witherspoon. He wondered why the state board of education is meddling in Birmingham City Schools and not in other districts that have recently fired their superintendents.

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After the vote, the man who leads the state intervention team stood up to object, but the board president told him he was out of order and couldn't speak. The president then called on security guards to intervene. WBHM’s Dan Carsen caught up with Deputy State Superintendent Craig Pouncey after the meeting.

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State Schools Superintendent Tommy Bice immediately rescinded the Birmingham board’s vote to fire Witherspoon, but many school district employees say they’re very confused about who they actually report to. For a blow-by-blow of last night's meeting, as well as background on how the situation developed, see Dan Carsen's full-length story.

July 18, 2012