DAPHNE, Ala. (WALA) -- The Baldwin County Sheriff's Office said a man fired shots at a Daphne police officer before the officer returned fire.
It started around 3 p.m. when officers were called to the Gator Alley Boardwalk in Daphne after getting a report of a man armed with a gun.
Lt. Andre Reid said the first two officers arrived at the boardwalk and found Johnny Simmons, 29, holding a pistol.
Another officer stopped on the Highway 98 overpass at I-10 and told Simmons to drop the gun but he refused, investigators said. According to Reid, Simmons then fired several shots at the officer who was standing on the bridge. The officer fired back and hit Simmons in the abdomen. The sheriff's office said only one shot was fired by officers during the incident.
Simmons was flown to a local hospital for treatment and underwent emergency surgery for his wound. He is expected to survive and will face charges once he's released from the hospital, Reid said.
No officers were injured during the shootout. The name of the officer has not been released.
A witness told FOX10 News he watched part of the ordeal unfold.
“It was terrifying yeah, it was right next to me," said William Isherwood. "I didn’t know what was going on at first. I saw blue lights but he jumped out and grabbed an assault rifle and started shooting."
Isherwood watched as a Daphne Police Officer opened fire around 3pm. He says he heard at least 10 shots before he could get to safety.
“There was a police officer stopped in the middle of the road, his lights came on right then I was probably 10 feet away and he started opening fire and screaming drop the gun," he said.
The suspect was hit by at least one bullet and had to be life-flighted to a Mobile hospital. No officers were hit or injured.
"It seemed like a shootout, I didn’t really hear where the bullets were coming from. I know that the officer was firing in that direction and he told the man or whoever it was to put the gun down," Isherwood said.
Reid is the commander of the Baldwin County Major Crimes Unit which is leading the investigation into the shooting. He said detectives will be interviewing family members to get an idea of the mental health background of Simmons.
Investigators say this shooting could have left others inured with so many innocent people in the area.
"While he may have been shooting at the officer he could have absolutely hit and struck someone else so I think we avoided a huge tragedy here," Reid said.