South Alabamian

Longtime Marengo County Commissioner accidentally shoots and kills himself

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A veteran area elected official has died in what is apparently an accidental self-inflicted shooting.

Marengo County Commissioner Freddie Armstead had been hunting the afternoon of Wednesday, Feb. 9. He returned home and had dinner with his family and went to his truck to get his rifles out. One somehow discharged as he was taking it out, striking him.

Ambulance and police received a call of the shooting about 9:30 p.m. Demopolis Police Chief Rex Flowers said he was alert when helped arrived and told them what had happened.

Armstead, 76, was taken by ambulance to Whitfield Memorial Hospital where he was being treated when he died.

Armstead had been a Marengo County commissioner serving District One for nearly 36 years and was running for re-election to a 10th term in the May 24 Democratic primary. Edward L. “Big Daddy” King was challenging Armstead on the Democratic ballot.

A decision had not been made as to whether to appoint someone to the vacancy — the new term starts in January 2023 — or let this year’s election determine the seat.

Thomasville Mayor Sheldon Day said Armstead was well known throughout the region and was a good public servant, as evident by his long years in office.

“Freddie was always happy and congenial,” Day said.

Clarke County Commissioner Rhondel Rhone and Armstead were two of the longest-serving black commissioners in the region. Rhone has been in office eight terms to Armstead’s nine.

“First of all, Freddie was a dear friend. Second, he was a good commissioner. He represented Marengo County but he was always for whatever would benefit the entire region.”

Rhone served with Armstead 20-plus years on the ATRC board, a regional group of local governments. He also served with him on the Black Belt Treasures Board of Directors where Armstead was the longtime chairman.

Black Belt Treasures, in Camden, gives artists throughout the region an outlet to showcase and sell their wares. “Freddie loved Black Belt for the avenue it gave local artists,” Rhone said.

Rhone said he and Armstead both loved their Auburn Tigers. “We were at an ATRC meeting the day he died and when they called the roll, Freddie answered ‘War Eagle!’,” Rhone recalled.

A graveside service will be held Saturday, Feb. 19 at 2:30 p.m. in the Memorial Garden Cemetery on Highway 43 in Demopolis.

Glen White Memorial Funeral Home of Uniontown is handling arrangements.

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