Victim in I-565 shooting identified, charge upgraded to murder


UPDATE (1/4): The victim in Thursday’s I-565 shooting, who died of his injuries at about 6:30 p.m. Thursday, has been identified as 34-year old Martez Jermain Haynes. The charge against the suspect, Justin Watts, has been upgraded to murder.

Lt. Michael Johnson says the motive is still a mystery. He says the group was in town because they were hired as cleaners.

UPDATE (1/3 5:38 P.M.):

According to Huntsville Police, 27-year-old Justin Daniel Watts of Birmingham is under arrest for a Thursday morning shooting on I-565.

Police responded to a call of a possible suicide attempt on I-565 at Zeirdt Rd. involving a van. Dispatch said that Madison Police had a person in custody and the suicide victim had a life-threatening wound. The first HPD officer on the scene was told by Madison PD that the victim allegedly shot himself while was van was traveling east on I-565.

Justin Watts, 27, of Birmingham

According to Huntsville Police, he also learned that, “when Madison PD first arrived, the responding officer from Madison saw the offender with a gun as he was exiting his patrol car. The officer drew his weapon and had the offender drop it, in which he did. The offender then made the spontaneous statement to the officer that he  “shot the man” and “wanted a lawyer”.  They placed the subject in the back of a patrol car and secured the gun.”

More HPD officers arrive and took statements from the other four people in the vehicle. They said they worked for a cleaning company out of Birmingham. Witnesses in the van said they heard the gunshot and then Mr. Watts stated that the victim had shot himself. They called 911 and pulled over on the side of I-565.

The victim, also from Birmingham, has not been publicly identified. He was transported to Huntsville Hospital by HEMSI and treated for a gunshot wound to the head that is believed to be un-survivable at this time. 

UPDATE (2:24 P.M.):

Lt. Michael Johnson now clarifies the victim is “still technically alive.” Johnson says: “He is on life support and not expected to survive.”

UPDATE (1:45 P.M.): 

Huntsville Police say the man shot in a van on I-565 has died and the case is now a homicide.

Lt. Michael Johnson says the victim and suspect were both in the back seat. Four of the passengers were men and two were women.

More information including possible charges will be coming.


Huntsville Police are investigating a shooting on I-565 that has hospitalized one person in critical condition.

Police received the call at approximately 8:30 Thursday morning that someone was shot inside a van which was traveling east on I-565, near Zierdt Road.

Traffic was backed up on the interstate for hours as police looked into what is believed to be an attempted suicide. However, they have not ruled out attempted homicide at this point.

There were a total of six people believed from Birmingham in the van and a passenger was shot, according to HPD’s Lt. Michael Johnson.

WZDX will update this story when more information becomes available.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

More from WZDX News

More Don't Miss

Get our WZDX News & Weather Apps