ONLY ON 5: An unexpected thank you for Spanish Fort Police

Baldwin County

SPANISH FORT, Ala. (WKRG) — Saturday afternoon, police say 38-year-old Robert Smith, Jr. unloaded fifty rounds of ammunition into the service entrance of the Bass Pro Shop before officers were able to subdue him with a taser and take him into custody.

Four days later, on the sidewalk across from the Spanish Fort Police Department, Ray Artis stood for an hour with his sign and his message. ” Police officers aren’t getting rewarded when they do it right.”

Inside the building, officers told Chief John Barber he needed to see what was going on. “I looked outside and I saw Ray and I saw him holding the sign and I said wow, that’s unexpected and that’s a wonderful thing.”

The two men had never met, never had a conversation but for the next few minutes talked about the arrest of Robert Smith Jr. and the bigger conversation about police brutality. “We are all to often fixated on what goes wrong,” said Barber, “and this is a situation where it worked perfectly through the training, through their experience, and it needs the attention that it deserves for my officers.”

That’s what Artis recognized as he watched a clip of the story on TV the night before. “This thing ain’t broke. I don’t listen to the rhetoric. It’s not broke to the point that some people are saying. We just need to get together and understand that we need each other.”

Their conversation ended with a handshake and an understanding that we are all in this together.

A motive in the shooting has not been determined. Investigators are still tracing the guns used in the shooting and the 10 found at Smith’s home in Grove Hill. While Smith remains in jail on state charges, discussions are now underway on possible federal charges.

Watch the full exchange below:

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