Opelika couple arrested for hosting, organizing illegal card game

Published: Oct. 27, 2014 at 8:50 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 28, 2014 at 8:50 AM EDT
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Steve Russell Thrift (Photo credit: Lee County Sheriff's Office)
Steve Russell Thrift (Photo credit: Lee County Sheriff's Office)
Vickie Lynn Thrift (Photo credit: Lee County Sheriff's Office)
Vickie Lynn Thrift (Photo credit: Lee County Sheriff's Office)

OPELIKA, AL (WTVM) - The Lee County Sheriff's Office arrested a husband and wife team at their home in Opelika, Ala.  on US Highway 431 at approximately 9 a.m. Central on Monday, Oct. 27.

Steven Russell Thrift, 59, and Vickie Lynn Thrift, 49, have both been charged with Promoting Gambling and Simple Gambling.

These charges stem from a shooting that occurred near a poker party they hosted in August at their business.

On Aug. 31, at approximately 11:33 p.m. Central, the Lee County Sheriff's Office received multiple 911 calls from subjects attending a poker party at a location in the 5500 block of U.S. Highway 431 North Opelika in reference to a shooting with at least two injured gunshot victims. Thrift's Auto Sales and Towing, a business, is located and operated on the property near where these crimes occurred.

Lee County Sheriff's Office Deputies and Opelika Police Officers arrived on the scene and observed a crowd of approximately 12 people standing and kneeling around two men lying on their backs a short distance from the roadway. Emergency medical personnel were also notified and arrived on the scene as well.

Deputies observed 43-year-old Marcus Keith Byrom of Montezuma, Ga., suffering from what appeared to be multiple gunshot wounds to his left arm and torso. He was flown to Midtown Medical Center in Columbus, Ga. for surgery and medical treatment. Byrom was listed in serious but stable condition at the time but is recovering from his injuries.

According to witnesses, Byrom and another individual at the party walked outside when a midsize black sedan similar to a Toyota Camry pulled up and stopped near them. Two unknown people got out of the vehicle and screamed, "Don't move! Give it up!" and immediately shots were fired.

One of the subjects believed to be in the suspect vehicle was located a short distance from Byrom with what appeared to be a fatal gunshot injury to the head. This subject was later identified as 29-year-old Jertheaus Antez Williams, also known as "Pookie Williams," of Opelika.

The investigation into this Robbery, Murder and Attempted Murder cases revealed evidence that Steven and Vickie Thrift were responsible for hosting, promoting, and organizing this illegal card game at their business, Thrifts Auto Sale and Towing, the night when this shooting occurred.

They are currently being held in the Lee County Detention Facility on a $1,300 bond. The couple was also convicted by a Lee County District Court on April 5, 2011 for Simple Gambling.

This case is still under investigation and additional arrests are expected.

If you have any information about this case or any other case, please contact the Lee County Sheriff's Office at 1-334-749-5651 or Lee County Crime Stoppers at 1-888-522-7847.

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