“I should be dead,” she said Wednesday.
Pope is still recovering from being stabbed on a public bus earlier this month, allegedly by her former boyfriend, Randall O’Keith Morgan Jr., 23, of Anniston. She is currently in therapy, recovering from 17 stab wounds and a damaged nerve in her hand.
Morgan was arrested Oct. 21 on three separate charges including felony domestic violence, felony first-degree theft, and misdemeanor domestic violence. He was released on a $15,500 bond from the Calhoun County Jail Wednesday, and was re-arrested later that day on a felony charge of first-degree kidnapping, according to a police report.
Pope said the series of incidents began between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. on Oct. 12 in her apartment. Pope said she and Morgan, whom she had been dating for six and a half months, got into an argument, during which Morgan punched Pope in the eye.
Pope said after Morgan left she went to a neighbor’s home to call police, file a report, and ask that a warrant be issued for Morgan’s arrest. Pope said that she was told she would have to wait until that Monday to file for a warrant.
Pope said because she didn’t feel safe with Morgan free, she didn’t want to stay in her apartment. Around 3:30 p.m. she and her three children, ages 3, 4, and 6, boarded a bus to go shopping for birthday decorations for her daughter, Pope said.
Pope said Morgan boarded the Areawide Community Transportation System bus at Trolley Central on 4th Street in downtown Anniston. She was sitting next to a stranger when Morgan began talking to her, asking if they were still in a relationship.
Morgan told the man sitting next to Pope to get off at the next stop, and when the man refused, Morgan flashed a knife, Pope said.
Pope said she tried to alert the bus driver about the knife, but he kept driving the bus.
Pope said Morgan continued to talk to her, and told her not to file for a warrant with the police about the earlier domestic violence incident. Morgan yelled an obscenity, jumped from his seat, and stabbed her, Pope said.
“The last thing I expected for him to do was something in front of people. We don’t even argue in front of my kids because he doesn’t like it,” Pope said.
Pope said she heard the other passengers screaming and thought someone was going to help her, but when she looked up, she and her children were the only ones remaining on the bus. Pope said the driver directed the other passengers off the bus, leaving her and her children and the keys to the bus still in the ignition.
Kathy Adams, president of Anniston Limousine, which operates the bus service, said there is no protocol for drivers to follow during incidents such as the stabbing because they are very uncommon. Adams said drivers should use common sense.
Pope said Wednesday she had heard that the driver ran into a nearby Jack’s to call police. Pope said she saw a cellphone in the bus driver’s pocket, and wondered why he hadn’t used it.
Shane Christian, project manager of public transportation in East Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission, which manages the grant that funds the bus system, said it discourages cellphone use on public transportation.
Pope said when Morgan took control of the bus, he was still holding the knife. The inside of the bus and her children were covered in blood, she said.
According to a police report, Pope suffered from four to five cuts on her right hand, cuts on her chin, left wrist and upper left arm, and four cuts on her buttocks and various stab wounds. Her left right ring finger also was severed in the attack, she said; doctors were able to re-attach it.
Pope said she crawled to the front of the bus and grabbed the knife from Morgan while he was distracted. After she grabbed the knife, Morgan stopped the bus and got off, Pope said.
Pope said when she recognized the bus was in Weaver she drove herself and her children to the Weaver Police Department, and honked the horn. Two passers-by came to her aid, she said.
Pope said one of the passers-by took her children to McDonald’s, then to Regional Medical Center. The children waited at the radiology lab while she was being treated until Department of Human Resources workers came to get them.
Pope is currently recovering from her injuries at a local women’s shelter.
Pope said DHR has not returned her children. She was able to celebrate her eldest daughter’s seventh birthday on Oct. 24, but the visit was supervised.
Pope also said she was able to go trick-or- treating with them on Thursday.
Barry Spears, a spokesman at the Department of Human Resources office in Montgomery, declined Thursday to release information about DHR policies because every case DHR handles is different.
“There’s really no one-size-fits-all policy,” he said. Spears said decisions to remove children from their homes are made by courts.
“In emergency cases we can take them, if we’re concerned about the safety of a child and where they’re living, but we have to go in front of a judge to request custody,” Spears said.
Spears said DHR’s main goal is to make sure children are living with their families, and, if possible, place children with family members until their parents are able to reclaim custody.
Pope said Wednesday DHR has no right to keep her from her children.
“I haven’t seen my kids for more than three hours since I’ve been stabbed,” she said.
Morgan remained in Calhoun County Jail Thursday with bond set at $10,000, according to police reports. He is to appear in court Nov. 18.
Staff Writer Madasyn Czebiniak: 256-235-3562. On Twitter: @Mczebiniak_star