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STANDOFF: California man charged in fatal shooting at Mt. Moriah home

James Michael Swithers, pictured above at the scene, was in Pike County less than 24 hours before officials say he shot and killed at Mt. Moriah woman during an early morning incident at her home. Sheriff Russell Thomas said Swithers had barricaded himself in the home for more than 90 minutes before he surrended to authorities. Murder charges were pending late Monday, the sheriff said.

James Michael Swithers, pictured above at the scene, was in Pike County less than 24 hours before officials say he shot and killed at Mt. Moriah woman during an early morning incident at her home. Sheriff Russell Thomas said Swithers had barricaded himself in the home for more than 90 minutes before he surrended to authorities. Murder charges were pending late Monday, the sheriff said.

A Mt. Moriah woman is dead and a California man is in custody after an early morning standoff at her residence.

James Michael Swithers, 24, was in custody early Monday and will be charged in the shooting death of Addie Stephens Little, 48. Murder charges were pending Monday afternoon.

“We got the call at 4:51 a.m. and when deputies arrived, another female came running out of the residence,” Pike County Sheriff Russell Thomas said. “She said the shooter was still inside the house and the other lady had been shot, and she felt like she was dead.”

Thomas said Swithers barricaded himself in the house on County Road 1111 “with multiple firearms” and finally surrendered to deputies around 6:30 a.m.

Stephens was found in the living room, where she had been shot once in the upper torso. Thomas said she was declared dead at the scene. No one else was injured.

Thomas said investigators believe Swithers, whose driver’s license shows an Odenville address, had been living in California for nearly a year before arriving in Pike County late Sunday to visit relatives.

“The male subject who lived in the house with Addie had been doing some work for Swithers’ mother and knew he was coming into town,” Thomas said. “They didn’t have a place for Swithers to stay and he offered, out of kindness, to have Swithers stay with them.”

Both Swithers and his sister were staying at the residence on Monday. Thomas said the incident began shortly after the other man left around 4 a.m.

“That’s when Swithers pulled a .22-caliber rifle and a shotgun on both the females who were in the residence,” Thomas said. “At some point, he actually went outside and the women tried to barricade the front door so he couldn’t get back in. But he kicked in the barricade.”

That’s when it appears Little was shot. The other woman, who is Swithers’ sister, ran and hid in a back room, calling her mother to call for help.

“When the deputies arrived and identified themselves, she ran out of the house,” Thomas said. “About an hour and a half later, Swithers surrendered.”

The sheriff said the incident proved to be a cautionary tale. “It was an act of kindness on their part” to invite Swithers to stay at the residence “even though they knew he wasn’t stable.”

“He’d been here less than 12 hours and he’d already committed a homicide,” the sheriff said.

Thomas said the victim was well-known in the Mt. Moriah community. “Our prayers go out to the Stephens family,” he said. “That’s a large family and a good family … it was a sad, sad day.”

Thomas said the sheriff’s department was assisted by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, the Pike County Coroner and the District Attorney’s Office during the standoff and investigation.