A former Alabama state trooper shot a district attorney outside his office building on Thursday, prompting law enforcement officials to kill the gunman, the authorities said.
The prosecutor, Gregory Griggers, had returned from lunch and was sitting in his car in Demopolis, Ala., about 1 p.m. when he was attacked, the authorities said.
The former state trooper, identified as Steven Smith Jr., opened fire, shattering a car window and injuring Mr. Griggers in the face, said Michael W. Jackson, the district attorney in the state’s Fourth Judicial Circuit, which neighbors Mr. Griggers’s region.
Two law enforcement officers standing nearby then shot at Mr. Smith, killing him, Mr. Jackson said.
Mr. Griggers, the district attorney for Alabama’s 17th Judicial Circuit, was treated for minor injuries at a hospital and was released, Jason Roberts, a captain with the State Bureau of Investigation, said at a news conference streamed by a local news site.
Mr. Jackson said it seemed as though Mr. Smith might have been targeting Mr. Griggers.
“The guy was waiting,” Mr. Jackson said. “It looks like he was waiting to shoot.”
Chief Tommie J. Reese, of the Demopolis Police Department, told reporters that Mr. Griggers was shot but would not say where on his body.
Local officials immediately recognized Mr. Smith’s name and former occupation as being connected with a decades-old case involving a reported shooting at the home of a Circuit Court judge from the same district as Mr. Griggers. According to an appellate court decision delivered in 1998, Mr. Smith was interviewed as a potential suspect in a reported shooting at the home of Circuit Judge Eddie Hardaway Jr., who remains in the position.
In 1996, it was reported that someone fired a shotgun twice into the home of Judge Hardaway, the first black judge elected to that Circuit Court bench. Mr. Smith, who was a state trooper at the time, was interviewed in connection with the shooting but was not arrested, the court decision said.
According to a report by The Associated Press at the time, Jeff Sessions, then the state’s attorney general, handled the case.
Mr. Smith was upset over how the Alabama Bureau of Investigation was handling the inquiry and expressed his criticism in newspaper articles, irritating his superiors, who had given instructions not to discuss the investigation, the decision said. When Mr. Smith continued to publicize his criticism, he was fired.
Mr. Smith challenged his firing up to the state’s Court of Civil Appeals, which decided against him in 1998. He was hired in 1982, Captain Roberts said.
Patrick D. Mahaney, who was an assistant attorney general with the Department of Public Safety at the time, said the case of the reported shooting at Judge Hardaway’s home was never resolved.
Mr. Mahaney, who defended the department in the appeal, said Mr. Smith had a history of misconduct in his job, and that act of insubordination was the last straw.
Mr. Mahaney, who is now a lawyer in private practice, said he had not heard Mr. Smith’s name in years and was shocked by the news.
“To shoot a sitting district attorney? I was stunned,” he said in an interview. “I was extremely surprised, particularly by someone who was a former law enforcement officer.”
Mr. Mahaney said that, to his knowledge, Mr. Griggers had no connection with the case in the ’90s. Mr. Griggers was appointed as district attorney for the 17th Judicial Circuit in 2003, according to local news reports.
In a statement, United States Attorney Jay E. Town, from the Northern District of Alabama, said Mr. Griggers is a “dedicated public servant and an honorable man.”
Mr. Jackson, the district attorney, said the shooting was a stark reminder of the potential perils of his career.
“We have a very serious job and we deal with dangerous individuals all the time,” he said. “It’s something that you don’t think about much.”