Atmore man charged in Jimbos Road ambush
By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
Atmore Police Chief Chuck Brooks announced Monday (September 30) that city police have made an arrest in the September 24 shooting death of 23-year-old Roderick Lynn “Thumper” Watkins.
Brooks said APD investigators arrested 23-year-old Anthony Jerome English of Atmore on Monday at an undisclosed location in Monroeville. He is charged with murder.
The police chief said around 11 a.m. Tuesday, October 1, that local police were on their way back from the Monroe County Jail, from which English was being transferred to the Escambia County Detention Center. He will be processed on the murder charge and a bond hearing will be scheduled.
The arrest came less than seven days after Watkins was gunned down inside his car as he arrived home from work around 2:30 a.m. to change into his gym clothes and go for a workout.
Police said a lone gunman, now identified as English, was waiting for Watkins and began firing a handgun into the victim’s Nissan Altima as he drove up to his Jimbos Road residence.
The short and dark city street is located on the eastern side of Alabama 21, across the road about halfway between Spudd’s and Escambia County Middle School. Brooks said after the shooting that no ECMS students or Spudd’s customers were ever in harm’s way, since the incident took place several hours before school was to start and several hours after the store had closed for the night.
Debra Brooks, the murder victim’s mother, told investigators she was awakened shortly after midnight by “the neighborhood dogs all cutting up.” She scanned the area outside her home but saw nothing out of the ordinary and went back to sleep.
The local woman said she was awakened again about two hours later, this time by “seven to 10” gunshots from somewhere close by. Investigators reportedly found “numerous bullet shell casings” around the vehicle.
Debra Brooks told police the shooter was “hiding in the bushes” near her son’s car and ran away when she came outside. She ran to the bullet-riddled vehicle and found Watkins lying on the ground beside it. The car’s motor was still running and its passenger-side front door was open.
Police have not announced a possible motive for the shooting, but the victim’s mother said it was “all over a girl.”
Along with his mother, Watkins is survived locally by his father, Roderick Lynn Watkins Sr.
His funeral service will be held at 1 p.m. Wednesday, October 2, from Gaines Chapel AME Church. Burial will follow in Fairview Cemetery.
A full obituary appears on page 3 of this edition.