In anticipation of large crowds following the University of Alabama's A-Day game, the Tuscaloosa Police Department partnered with UAPD to patrol The Strip along University Boulevard. Despite this heavy presence, police arrested several individuals and seized six weapons Saturday.

Tuscaloosa Police Chief Brent Blankley ordered crowd dispersal around midnight, forcing people to either leave the area or go inside a nearby business.

Closer to 1 a.m., Blankley and several other officers were alerted to a report of young men with guns gathered in the parking lot of a closed restaurant. The officers responded to the 1400 block of University Boulevard after a passerby notified an off-duty officer working at Waffle House of the group.

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When they arrived at the scene, officers saw a man holding a rifle, at which point they called for backup before approaching the group. Police detained the group and searched two nearby parked vehicles.

Upon searching the first vehicle, police recovered marijuana from the center console and loaded Glock with an extended magazine containing 19 rounds of ammunition. The gun had been reported stolen to the Birmingham Police Department.

Inside the second car, police found a pistol-style AK-47 with a fully loaded magazine.

(Photo Courtesy of the Tuscaloosa Police Department)
(Photo Courtesy of the Tuscaloosa Police Department)

Cortez Deon Gulley, 20, of Birmingham was charged with possession of that firearm without a permit and for second-degree possession of marijuana. Two of the first vehicle's passengers, teenage girls from Centerpoint, were released to their parents after being questioned. A 16-year-old form Hoover was charged with a curfew violation and was released to his mother with an agreement to appear in court.

“We prepared for this event by assigning stationed and roving officers to different locations along the Strip and the bar areas downtown,” Blankley said. “I feel like the incidents that did occur could have been much worse if officers had not been so close and so quick to respond.”

Earlier that night, officers were informed of a possible robbery in the 1200 block of University Boulevard. Suspects were described as four men in a black sedan. Officers located a black Toyota Camry and the four suspects parked behind the bar area at approximately 10:02 p.m.

The four men, all from Moundville, told officers they had just arrived and were sitting in the car before going out.

Upon searching the vehicle, officers discovered a small amount of marijuana and an AR pistol.

(Photo Courtesy of the Tuscaloosa Police Department)
(Photo Courtesy of the Tuscaloosa Police Department)

Brandon Lewis, 19, was charged with possession of a firearm without a permit and second-degree possession of marijuana. Two of the other occupants were transported and charged with outstanding and unrelated charges.

However, police were not able to locate any witnesses or find evidence to confirm the initial robbery report. No shots were fired at any time in the area.

These events were preceded by reports of racing in the parking lot by Snow Hinton Park just after 4 p.m. Multiple callers reported people racing and doing burnouts and donuts in the parking lot. Other reports said the people were smoking marijuana and were armed with handguns.

One report noted a possible shot fired, although officers were not able to confirm that.

Lastly, later that evening officers responded to residential complexes in the 700 block of Tamaha Trace and the 5600 block of Alabama Highway 69 South. This came after several complaints of large grounds, and a report of a man with a gun at the complex on 69 South.

Residents of the complex on Tamaha Trace were unable to get in or out of the road leading to their homes, due to traffic blocking 25th Avenue East.

A total of 271 police calls for service occurred during the 24-hour period between midnight Saturday and midnight Sunday.

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