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1 dead, 1 arrested in shooting over dog hit by vehicle

VERBENA, Ala. — A confrontation that began after a vehicle struck and killed a dog on a rural Alabama road ended with a woman shot dead, her husband wounded by gunfire and another man charged with murder, police said Friday.

A car hit a dog belonging to Debra and Paul Chapman on a country road in the central Alabama town of Verbena after dark on Wednesday, Chilton County Sheriff John Shearon. The driver got out, attempted without success to determine who owned the animal, and then drove on.

“He tried to do the right thing,” said Shearon.

Moments later, Paul Chapman emerged from his house and began shooting, Shearon said. Dallas Clint Gray, who was visiting at a nearby home, responded by returning the fire and hit both of the Chapmans, he said.

The 60-year-old woman was killed and the man was seriously wounded.

Gray, 23, “had a right to fire back” and wasn’t charged with attempted murder for the shot that hit the man, Shearon said.

“The problem was that the woman was struck,” he said. “That’s where the murder charge comes in.”

Gray was being held in the county jail, and court records weren’t available to show whether he had a lawyer to speak on his behalf. A grand jury will review the case and could either indict Gray or determine he didn’t commit a crime, Shearon said.

Paul Chapman remains hospitalized in Birmingham, the sheriff said. It was unclear whether he may have mistakenly believed that Gray was the driver who struck and killed his pet.

“It’s very odd thing. Three lives are changed forever because of a dog,” said Shearon.

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