Joshua Eugene Russell, 25, is facing a capital murder charge in connection with the shooting Wednesday of an Anniston police officer.
Anniston police said this afternoon they'd gotten a judge's signature on the capital murder warrant, upgrading the charge from attempted murder in the shooting death of police Officer Justin Sollohub, 27.
Doctors in Birmingham were expected this afternoon to be finishing operations to remove Solohub's organs for transplant. The officer had been on life support only to make that possible.
Russell was being held at the Etowah County Jail in Gadsden with bond set at $420,000 on the attempted murder charge and four unrelated drug charges.
Russell was being held in the Gadsden to ensure he is treated fairly, Calhoun County Sheriff Larry Amerson told the Calhoun County Commission at a meeting this morning.
“Emotions have been running high and we want to make sure this man’s rights are protected,” Amerson said. “We could do that in our jail, but we didn’t want any shadow on this case.”
Sollohub’s mother, Jeniffer Morris, said this morning that her son was officially dead, and that doctors planned to complete operations to use his organs for transplant by this afternoon.
Doctors already have found recipients in Alabama for his heart and liver. His pancreas will go to a recipient out of state, Morris said, though it wasn’t yet known where.
After the procedures, she said, Sollohub’s body will be taken by Calhoun County Coroner Pat Brown and state troopers to a state forensics lab in Huntsville.
Funeral arrangements are pending.
“He was a great kid,” Morris said. “He was doing what he loved to do. He didn’t want to sit in an office.”
In addition to the murder charge, Russell was being held on four counts of unlawful distribution of controlled substances, with bond set at a total of $120,000, according to officials at the Calhoun County Jail. He also faced another charge related to child support, jail officials said.
Russell was apprehended Wednesday night hiding in an overgrown lot, after an intense eight-hour manhunt following Sollohub’s shooting. Agents from local, state and federal agencies searched in the heat for hours, with the aid of dogs, armored personnel carriers and helicopters.
Anniston police today said they’d had a warrant for Russell’s arrest on a domestic violence charge. Additionally, Oxford police had warrants out for his arrest on the drug distribution charges. Troy police, meanwhile, had a warrant for his arrest on a felony charge of assaulting an officer, according to Anniston police Capt. Richard Smith.
None of those were Russell’s first encounters with law enforcement. He’d been released in October 2010 after serving about a year of a five-year prison sentence on earlier drug distribution charges stemming from an arrest in Anniston.
That Russell was free to become involved in the shooting Anniston police say he committed Wednesday irked Smith.
“Absolutely, it’s frustrating,” Smith said. “As fast as we put them in, they’re back on the streets.”
Check AnnistonStar.com for more details as they become available.
Staff writers Laura Johnson, Patrick McCreless and Cameron Steele contributed reporting for this story.