Victim in I-565 shooting dies

Huntsville Police say the shooting victim was placed on life support and died Thursday night.

Posted: Jan 3, 2019 9:10 AM
Updated: Jan 7, 2019 1:39 PM

UPDATE: (1:35 p.m. Friday) The victim's name is Martez Jermain Haynes, 34. He is from Birmingham, and his family has been notified.

According to court documents, the attempted murder suspect, Justin Watts, pleaded guilty to a burglary 3rd degree charge in 2013. He also had a domestic violence 3rd degree harassment case from 2016 that was dismissed. Both cases were in Jefferson County.

Justin Watts Justin Watts

Courtesy of Google Maps; 9:40 a.m. Jan. 3, 2019

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(8:00 a.m. Friday) Huntsville Police confirmed to WAAY 31 the victim in a shooting that happened along I-565 has died. They told us the victim died Thursday night just after 6 p.m. Right now, Justin Watts, 27, faces attempted murder charges, however, Huntsville Police said they expect to upgrade those to murder in the next 48 hours. 

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(5:30 p.m.) A Birmingham man, 27-year-old Justin Watts, is in the custody of Huntsville Police on an attempted murder charge. 

On Thursday morning, Huntsville Police were called to assist Madison Police with a call of a possible suicide attempt on I-565 near Zierdt Road. The van had been travelling east.

Police dispatch advised to Huntsville Police that Madison Police had a person in-custody and that the suicide victim had a life-threatening wound. When Huntsville Police arrived to the scene, an officer was told that the victim allegedly shot himself while the van was travelling eastbound.

When Madison Police first arrived, an officer saw the suspect with a gun as he was exiting the vehicle. The officer pulled out his weapon and the suspect then dropped the gun. The suspect told police that he had “shot the man” and “wanted a lawyer.” The suspect was placed in the back of a patrol car and the gun was secured.

Witness statements were taken from the four other people who were in the vehicle. The victim, a 34-year-old male who is from Birmingham, was taken to Huntsville Hospital and treated for a gunshot wound to his head. Huntsville Police say he is not expected to survive.

People in the van said they heard the gunshot and that Watts then said the victim had shot himself. They called 911 and pulled over on the side of Interstate 565.

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(2:26 p.m.) Huntsville Police now say the victim of the Thursday morning shooting is still alive. He is on life support and is not expected to survive. 

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(1:38 p.m.) Huntsville Police say they have now ruled a Thursday morning shooting on I-565 as a homicide.

The victim was taken to Huntsville Hospital in critical condition where they later died as a result of the shooting, according to Huntsville Police. Police say the victim and the suspect were in the backseat of the van traveling on I-565.

There were a total of four males and two females inside the van. Police say they have a suspect in custody but have not pressed charges yet. All of the people in the van worked for a cleaning business near Birmingham, according to police. 

Police cleared the scene and reopened the lanes just before 11 a.m.

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According to Lieutenant Johnson with Huntsville Police, the call came in as a suicide by gun. He said the caller was in a van with five other people, and the vehicle pulled over on the side of the road. All of the people in the van were males who appear to be coworkers.

When police arrived to the scene, one of the people in the car was found with a gun. A passenger had a gunshot wound. Five people are being questioned. One person is in custody.

The gunshot victim is in critical condition at Huntsville Hospital. Police say it is too early in the investigation to determine if this was a suicide or homicide attempt.

"It is critical. It is life threatening. There was a total of six people inside the van and at this time, we believe them all to be from ... the Birmingham area," Johnson said.

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WAAY 31 is following a developing story after one person was shot and is in critical condition.

There is not a lot of information at the moment however, we do know the shooting happened inside a vehicle along I-565 near Zierdt Road. That’s according to a spokesperson with the Huntsville Emergency Medical Services. That spokesperson also told us the victim was transported to the hospital around 8:30 Thursday morning. WAAY 31 has called Huntsville Police and found out they are responding to the scene and plan on shutting down several lanes while they investigate.

WAAY 31 has a crew on the scene and will update this story as soon as we have more information.

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