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Chip Drago
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Dangerous waters:
utility workers fired on
By Chip Drago
Mobile Bay Times
Two Mobile Area Water and Sewer System workers escaped injury Friday when they were fired upon while turning on water service in north Mobile.

The blast shattered the rear window of their MAWSS truck. 

An MAWSS report on the incident read as follows:

"6-08-'07, Tk 138 - After turning on the water at 1401A Next Street, Josh Leachman was preparing to get in the truck when a shot was fired at the truck by individuals in a silver '85/'86 Chevy Monte Carlo.

The shot shattered the truck's rear window.

Derrick Reynolds was sitting in the passenger's seat when the shooting occurred.

Our personnel left the area and then reported the incident to the police. The police sent vehicles to the area but no suspects were found at this time."

The shooting occurred at about 8:20 a.m. Friday, June 8 at 1401 Next Street in north Mobile near Prichard. 

"Derrick told me to get in the truck, somebody was shooting at us," Leachman recalled. "I looked ... up and saw a silver Monte Carlo, 80's model shooting at us."

"Then, (they) circled around again while we were trying to leave ...." said Reynolds.

"We saw the car coming back and we took off," Leachman added.

MAWSS Director Malcolm Steeves called the episode "very disturbing."

"At first I thought, was hoping it was just a random thing, but on closer study, it looked like it was intended for our truck," said Steeves.

The truck with Leachman and Reynolds aboard comprises one of six MAWSS crews assigned to turn water on and off.

"That's the same truck that turns off meters for 'no pays' or delinquent payments," Steeves said. "I don't know for sure what happened out there. The person who was the driver is on vacation so I haven't spoken with him yet. The summer worker was concerned, concerned but okay. I hope it was just an isolated incident."

Steeves speculated that the shooter could have been a disgruntled customer who was "upset about it (water service) being turned off the previous week, the previous day or whatever. That's what that truck does, turns water off and on, all day every day."

Steeves called the incident the first of its kind in his 14 years at MAWSS.

He said MAWSS would offer counseling if the workers feel the need for it.

"I hope it was just an isolated incident and we can go on with regular business," Steeves said. "The next board meeting is Monday and we will discuss it at that time. We'll have a chance to evaluate what we want to do, if we decide to do anything."

The monetary damage to MAWSS property was negligible, and much overridden by the "psychological concern" for the safety of its employees, Steeves said.

"If that's the way they were responding to us (cutting off service for failure to pay), then it's real disturbing," Steeves said. "If it was just a random incident, that's also disturbing, but maybe not quite so much."

Steeves noted that school's out for summer.

"We've had some reports of fire hydrants turned on and sometimes those things happen the first few weeks that school's out, but who knows?" said Steeves.

Mobile Police Department spokesman John Young reported Friday that there had been no arrests in connection with the incident and an investigation was on-going.
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