Birmingham, Alabama: Wytasha Carter, 44, a police sergeant in Birmingham, Alabama, was shot and killed and another officer was critically wounded in a shooting outside a nightclub early Sunday. A suspect was in custody and a second, who was struck by gunfire during the shooting, was being treated at the hospital, police said.
Sgt. Wytasha Carter, affectionately known to his friends and family as Wyt, died from a gunshot wound to the head about 2 a.m. while on a special detail investigating car break-ins in the downtown Birmingham area. Those who knew the 44-year-old husband, father and U.S. Air Force veteran said he had a passion to serve and it showed every time he hit the city’s streets.
“He wanted to make a difference,’’ said Pell City Police Chief Paul Irwin, who was Carter’s captain at Birmingham’s West Precinct. “The type of person who killed him, that’s exactly the type of person he was trying to help.”
“He was the most amazing, most caring husband, father and officer I have met in my entire life,’’ said Birmingham police Officer Jordan Campbell who also worked with Carter at the West Precinct. “Every time I found myself getting into a dangerous situation, I’d look up and he was always there.”
“He prayed with me, he counseled me, most of all he was there for me and anyone else the needed him, without question,’’ she said.
The shooting happened just before 2 a.m. Sunday in the 900 block of Fifth Avenue North outside the 4 Seasons Bar & Grill. One suspect was taken into custody and one suspect was also shot. Birmingham Fire and Rescue Service took all three to UAB Hospital’s Trauma Center where Carter was pronounced dead. His co-workers later saluted the mortuary transport van that carried the fallen officer’s body to the Jefferson County Coroner’s Office. More than a half-dozen patrol cruisers provided escort for the transport.
Carter was a 1993 graduate of Phillips High School and then served in the U.S. Air Force. Once he completed his military service, Carter launched a career in law enforcement in 2002 as a correctional officer with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office.
Later that year, he joined the Leeds Police Department and remained there until moving to the Fairfield Police Department in 2007. Tuskegee University Police Chief Patrick Mardis Sr., who formerly served as Fairfield police chief, said Carter was both a co-worker and a friend. Carter served as a detective, a sergeant and a member of the Special Response Team while he was at Fairfield.
“He loved to work with school kids, mentoring them on the dangers of drugs and gangs,’’ Mardis said.
Carter was a fierce protector of his co-workers. “He was always the first one in and the last one out,’’ Mardis said. “He made sure his comrades were safe.”
“He was truly a public servant,’’ he said, “and his death will leave a profound void in Birmingham area law enforcement.”
Another former Fairfield police chief, Leon Davis, described Carter as hardworking and dedicated. “He was always willing to go the extra mile,’’ Davis said. “He was the ultimate profession and public servant.”
“Even more importantly,’’ Davis said, “he was a great man and humanitarian.”
Carter left the Fairfield PD in 2011 to join the Birmingham Police Department, where he worked various assignments including patrol at the city’s West Precinct, HICOPP and Youth Services as a school resource officer. He was made a member of the precinct’s task force because he was such a go-getter, Irwin said. “He was all about getting the job done,’’ Irwin said.
In 2016, Carter was one of several officers who responded April 14 to a home in the 1700 block of Seventh Avenue West where a roof and chimney had collapsed, trapping two young children – ages 8 and 5 – beneath the rubble. He and the other officers were later honored for the rescue.
“I went in and was in there moving the debris,’’ Irwin said. “He came in behind me and shoved me out of the way. He really cared about people, about the community.
Carter was promoted to sergeant in February 2018. Birmingham police Sgt. Tim Gardiner and Carter were promoted at the same time and grew close over the years. “He was one of those people who never met a stranger,’’ Gardner said. “He graduated from Phillips High School but as a school resource officer he worked at Jackson-Olin and Woodlawn and he was 100 percent about that school when he was there.”
“He took a vested interest in every single kid he dealt with,’ Gardiner said. “We talked, probably last week, about getting back over there (to the school resource division. That’s what he really wanted to do.
“He always helped people. He’d been in law enforcement a long time and had a lot of knowledge for the new people coming in,’’ Gardiner said.
Asked what he would remember most about Carter, Gardiner said this: “For his co-workers, it would be how much he loved his law enforcement family, and how much he sacrificed for the city.”
Former Birmingham and Fairfield police officer Erick Burpo Sr. said Carter was his brother not only by the badge, but through his life journey.
“I remember the first time I met him in the hallway of Fairfield police department and he made it sound and feel like we already knew each other. I looked at Nick Dyer and said, ‘Who is this dude and where did he come from?’ Nick just laughed and said, ‘He must be your brother.’’’
“From then on, the friendship and the brotherhood began,’’ Burpo said.
When Burpo was injured in the line of duty in 2006, he said the entire police department supported him but, “Carter did more,’’ he said. “He called and texted to make sure I was straight almost every day. This was how he was.”
“When he came to the Birmingham Police Department he continued to shine. Any department he went to they were sure to find out that they had a great man/officer in their midst,’’ Burpo said. “He helped to mold officers to not only be great at what they do but be great in life. His legacy will not be forgotten and will live on through many of us that have worked alongside of him.”
Carter is the 52nd Birmingham police officer killed in the line of duty. The last time an officer was killed was June 17, 2004 when Robert Bennett, Harley Chisholm and Carlos Owens were gunned down in an ambush outside an Ensley drug house.
“This is one of the roughest hours of your career.” said Birmingham Police Chief Patrick Smith. “There’s not a chief, not an officer that ever wants to have to deal with this. This is a very very difficult thing for the family, and for the department.”
Birmingham police Sgt. Heath Boackle, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, said the department has been hard hit by Carter’s death. “We’re human too. It’s a tragic loss for us,’’ he said. “We have senseless crime in this city and now it’s happened to one of our officers. We’re trying to get everybody to come together to solve this crime problem in the city.”