Alabama alums stunned by shootings at 'fun, safe' bar

University of Alabama alums struggled Tuesday to make sense of what appeared to be a senseless shooting in a Tuscaloosa, Ala., bar that had a reputation of being a peaceful hangout for both town and gown.

Britain Lamon and Rebecca Garr, both of whom formerly attended UA, said they had friends who were wounded — either by direct hits or ricochets — early Tuesday morning when a man opened fire on the Copper Top bar with a military-style assault rifle, injuring 17.

Two people were in intensive care, The Associated Press reported. Three people were in fair condition and the others were treated and released. At least three of the injured were university students.

Garr's and Lamon's friends weren't seriously hurt, but Facebook lit up with commentary and concern. Lamon, who grew up in Tuscaloosa before attending UA, said she knew her wounded friend from high school.

"He posted on Facebook, 'I'm OK guys, it is just a foot," said Lamon, 22, who graduated in 2011 and works for a museum in Atlanta. "The Copper Top is actually a place where my friends and I hung out a lot. It is probably half locals and half college students. ... It has always been a fun, safe place."

Garr, who now attends the University of Georgia, said one of her Kappa Alpha Theta sorority sisters was wounded but released from the hospital. Garr transferred to UGA after tornadoes devastated the Alabama college town last year.

"That school changed my life. ... It has been a really sad morning," said the 21-year-old Grady High School graduate. "To have the tornadoes and this shooting just puts a cloud over a really great school."

Emily Garner, a 33-year-old Carrollton physical therapist, said the bar was a friendly place when she graduated in 2000. "It wasn't one where you thought trouble would be at," said Garner, president of the Western Georgia Chapter of the UA Alumni Association.

Michael Russell, 23, of Atlanta, another UA grad, said he used to work at Mugshots Bar and Grill while attending UA but went to the Copper Top on Monday nights because it was the discount night for Tuscaloosa's bar and wait staff.

"I was there for four years and I never saw anything close to that," he said. "But there are crazy people everywhere."