by: Richard Elliot Updated:
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Alabama police are holding a man they said opened fire into a busy bar and wounded 17 people, including a man from Atlanta.
Nathan Van Wilkins, 44, surrendered Tuesday, several hours after police said he fired a military-style assault weapon into the Copper Top bar in downtown Tuscaloosa, Ala. He is charged with one count of attempted murder, but police said they plan to charge him with 16 other counts.
John Stone told Channel 2’s Richard Elliot he was at the Copper Top to pick up a friend when he heard the gunfire.
"It was just rapid fire," said Stone. "I took cover. And when I thought the gunman might come inside, I ran into the freezer."
Stone said another man jumped in with him. While he didn't get the man's name, he said the man told him he was from Atlanta and at the University of Alabama for a football camp. The man was wounded in the back of his leg.
"When he got into the freezer, he was saying he was hit," said Stone. "He had blood all over him, and I said, 'Where are you hit?' He said 'back of my leg.' I took my belt off to wrap it around his leg so it wouldn't bleed."
Stone knows the Atlanta man was taken to the hospital but didn't know his condition.
Police said 13 people were treated and released from the hospital, but four others remain in critical condition.
Cobb County resident Grant Wills is an Alabama sophomore. He said several of his fraternity brothers were inside the bar when the shooting started.
"This is just absolutely mind-blowing," said Wills. "I was so nervous because I was with them before they left so I knew exactly where they were going."
Wills said he was relieved when he got a call that all of them were OK.
Investigators are not releasing many details including the names of the victims, but they do believe Van Wilkins targeted someone inside the bar.
Van Wilkins is being held on $1.8 million bond.
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