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Victims of Alabama bar shooting improving, hospital spokesman says

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 10:50 AM EDT, Wed July 18, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Victims in critical and other conditions are upgraded, a hospital official says
  • Police: Nathan Van Wilkins, 44, is in jail with a $2 million bond
  • He faces 18 attempted murder charges
  • Wilkins was taken into custody after turning himself in at business 50 miles away

(CNN) -- Doctors upgraded the medical conditions of four of the five people still hospitalized after a shooting in a bar in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, a hospital spokesman said Wednesday.

One was listed in serious condition, an upgrade from critical, said Brad Fisher, communications director for DCH Regional Medical Center. Another person was upgraded to fair and two are now listed in good condition, he said. One person remains in fair condition.

All five have gunshot wounds, Fisher said.

Authorities have charged Nathan Van Wilkins, 44, with 17 counts of attempted murder in the shooting, which occurred at 12:30 a.m. Tuesday at the Copper Top bar near the University of Alabama campus, Tuscaloosa Police Sgt. Brent Blankley said. Wilkins also faces another attempted murder charge for a shooting earlier that night in a nearby subdivision, he said.

Wilkins was in the Tuscaloosa County Jail Tuesday night with a $2 million bond, Blankley said.

Police are confident Wilkins was the shooter "based on some of the things he's told us," Police Chief Steve Anderson said earlier Tuesday. No weapon had been recovered, he added.

Tuesday afternoon, the suspect went into a business in Jasper, about 50 miles north of Tuscaloosa, and "indicated he was involved in the incident," Anderson said. He was taken into custody by police there and returned to Tuscaloosa.

Surveillance video showed a man walking up to the bar, standing outside for a few minutes looking for someone and then beginning to shoot a military-style assault rifle, Anderson said.

Blankley said 17 people were admitted to DCH hospital with injuries related to the shooting.

Anderson said three of the people injured in the shooting were students. He could not say how many of those admitted were shot and how many were injured by shrapnel or flying objects.

Police will work with federal authorities to enhance the surveillance footage, he said.

Eleven shell casings have been recovered, Blankley said. The casings will be compared with those from a shooting that happened in a nearby neighborhood earlier in the evening, Anderson said.

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Riley Dunn, a University of Alabama senior who was injured in the shooting, told The Tuscaloosa News that 80 to 90 people were in the bar at the time.

"We were all just shooting pool and hanging out," Dunn said. "It was kind of loud from the music, but we heard the gunshot, and no one really knew what to think. The first gunshot took place, then about 20 seconds later, that's when he really started firing them off. After that, everyone really scattered."

Dunn said he suffered a shrapnel-like wound to his leg.

Tuscaloosa, about 60 miles southwest of Birmingham, is home to the University of Alabama. The Copper Top is about a mile from campus.

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CNN's George Howell, Joe Sutton, Dave Alsup and Meridith Edwards contributed to this report.

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