By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
Several Atmore citizens, looking for some sort of escape from the daily onslaught of bleak coronavirus-related news, found a brief diversion recently, when a young “button buck” deer crossed several city streets and crashed through the show window of a local print shop.
The incident happened March 25 at PCI Printing, 202 North Main Street, which was closed as part of the effort by Poarch Band of Creek Indians to try to help stymie the spread of the potentially deadly virus.
According to an employee of uFinancial and Payroll, which is next door to the print shop, the news of the deer’s venture into unfamiliar territory caught her by surprise.
“I was coming out to get my purse from the car, when Jonathan Qualls said something about a deer in PCI Printing,” said Mandie Thompson. “I thought he was saying there was a deer head on the wall in there, but he said, ‘no, ma’am, a deer went through the window’.”
Mandie said she immediately called 911 to report the hooved intruder. Her call brought several police officers to the scene, as well as Animal Control Officer Brandon James.
The sudden appearance of official vehicles brought traffic to a halt on North Main Street.
“The police responded quickly,” Mandie said. “I guess that’s because the dispatcher heard through the phone when the deer hit the glass behind me, and I screamed. It came back through the glass, went back across Main and Trammell streets, and was gone. But several people had stopped in the middle of the street to see what was happening. It was crazy.”
One of those who witnessed the incident was Roy Tolin, who was headed downtown with his neighbor, Carl Martin.
“We were headed downtown, and the deer ran across the street in front of us,” Roy said. “Traffic was backed up, and the cops were chasing it.”
The animal control officer said he got in on “the tail end” of the incident.
“We weren’t even able to make entry to the shop before it came busting back out,” Brandon said. “By the time we had a game plan, he was already out and gone.”
He added that a deer leaping along city streets was a rare occasion, especially near the end of March, and reckoned that a veterinary condition could have played a part.
“It was kind of unusual for him to be in that area, especially this time of year,” said Brandon. “You could expect it maybe during January and February, near the end of the rut. Who knows what could have been the cause? He could have had an abscess on his brain or something like that.”
He added that the last such incident he could recall was several years ago, when a deer ran into the B.C. Moore & Sons store on Lindbergh Avenue, the building where Dirt Cheap now operates.
Once the young buck, still very much alive, escaped the print shop, he traced his route across the two city streets and disappeared into a wooded area.
The diversion from COVID-19 lasted a while, but not long. It ended the next day, when a crew from SERVPRO arrived to clean the interior of the print shop and remove the blood splatters the deer left on the floor, walls and elsewhere.
“Here was the SERVPRO guys, walking along Main street in haz-mat suits,” Mandie said. “We had people stopping in and calling, asking what’s going on. They thought it had something to do with coronavirus.”