May admits to Southern Union campus shooting

By Lindsey Connell - bio | email

OPELIKA, AL (WTVM) - The man who opened fire at a quiet East Alabama college campus has confessed to the deadly shootings, according to court documents.

Thomas May III, 34, was taken into custody at Southern Union State Community College Wednesday night after he reappeared on campus after the drive-by shooting and approached several news reporters, telling them "I'm the guy you're looking for."

He faces three counts of attempted murder for shooting his wife, 36-year-old Bethany May and her grandmother, 93-year-old Maude Marshall and injuring his 4-year-old child who was struck with broken glass. May is also charged with capital murder for shooting and killing his mother-in-law, 62-year-old Brenda Watson. Bethany May is a student at Southern Union and was on campus with her mother, grandmother and child when May started shooting at them Wednesday afternoon.

According to affidavits charging him with the crimes, May drove by the victims while they were inside their Toyota van and started shooting at them. Brenda Watson had multiple gunshot wounds and was pronounced dead at the scene. Bethany May, his wife, was shot in the left arm. Her grandmother was also shot and was airlifted to the Columbus Regional Medical Center. Witnesses told police they heard between 10-20 rounds being fired from the car Thomas May was driving. Bethany May told police that the shooter was her husband. After his arrest, May was taken to the Opelika Police Department where he was read his rights and provided police with a signed statement admitting to the shootings.

May made his initial appearance in Lee County Circuit Court before Judge Christopher Hughes Thursday afternoon. After a 30 minute delay, he was brought into the courtroom in shackles and told the judge he understands his rights and charges. Cameras were not allowed inside and deputies even blocked the windows on doors surrounding the courtroom with paper towels so news crews could not film May coming to and from the hearing.

May's attorneys told the judge they will be requesting a preliminary hearing but the court clerk says a date has not yet been set. He is being held in the Lee County Detention Center without bond.

Family members did not have any comment for the media after the hearing.

Court documents show that Bethany May received a restraining order against her husband last week, filed April 1st. Under "type" on the order, it states "protection from abuse." A source close to May who wishes to remain anonymous approached WTVM's crew outside the Lee County Justice Center Thursday and told them Bethany May requested the restraining order because her husband threatened to hurt her after she threatened to leave him with their 4-year-old child.

Whether that was the motive behind Wednesday's shooting spree remains unclear.