Alabama man accused in bar shooting indicted on 68 charges

An Alabama grand jury returned a 68-count indictment against Nathan Van Wilkins.

Story highlights

  • Alabama grand jury returns a 68-count indictment against Nathan Van Wilkins
  • He is tied to two shootings, as well as several other crimes
  • 17 people were injured in early-morning shooting at a Tuscaloosa bar
A 44-year-old Alabama man has been indicted on 68 counts tied to a pair of shootings and other alleged crimes last month in and around Tuscaloosa, a district attorney announced Friday.
Nathan Van Wilkins was first charged by authorities with 17 counts of attempted murder on July 17 tied to an early-morning shooting at a bar in Tuscaloosa, police Sgt. Brent Blankley said. At that time, he also faced another attempted murder charge for a shooting late on July 16 in a nearby subdivision, according to Blankley.
After those charges were levied, Van Wilkins was ordered held in a county jail on a $2 million bond.
A Tuscaloosa County grand jury then considered the case, returning a 68-count indictment on Thursday. The office of county District Attorney Tommy Smith detailed the charges in a press release Friday.
The indictment alleges that Van Wilkins is responsible for shootings and other crimes at five locations.
He is charged with 19 counts of attempted murder, 19 counts of assault in the first degree and 17 counts of assault in the second degree for shooting and wounding 19 people in Tuscaloosa and his hometown of Northport, the district attorney's office said.
The Northport shooting occurred in a neighborhood residence, while the second happened about an hour later at the Copper Top bar near the University of Alabama's campus.
Van Wilkins is charged on two counts of shooting into an occupied building related to both those incidents.
Additionally, authorities say that Van Wilkins set fires in Northport and Brookwood at buildings and vehicles tied to his former employer, which was not named. The fire in Northport happened before the shootings, and multiple fires in Brookwood took place afterward, the district attorney's office said.
For those alleged crimes, Van Wilkins is charged with two counts of second-degree arson, four counts of first-degree criminal mischief and three counts of attempted criminal mischief.
The suspect also faces one count of fraudulent use of a credit card and one count of third-degree burglary, according to CNN affiliate WBRC.
Tuscaloosa police Chief Steve Anderson said soon after the shootings that they were confident Van Wilkins was responsible "based on some of the things he's told us." On the afternoon of July 17, the suspect went into a business in Jasper, about 50 miles north of Tuscaloosa, and "indicated he was involved in the incident," according to the police chief.
As of of Friday, no weapon tied to the shootings has been recovered. But authorities have found at least 11 shell casings from the Copper Top bar scene, which they compared to those from the Northport neighborhood shooting.
Surveillance video showed a man walking up to the Tuscaloosa bar, standing outside for a few minutes looking for someone and then beginning to shoot a military-style assault rifle, Anderson said.
Afterward, 17 people were admitted to the city's DCH Regional Medical Center with shooting-related injuries, according to Blankley.