Pickup driver tries to kill self by driving into Albany museum

Photo by Terry Lewis

Photo by Terry Lewis

ALBANY, Ga. -- Police say Willie Lee Leanear, 35, drove a 1994 Ford F-150 into the Albany Civil Rights Institute's front doors Thursday night in an attempt to kill himself.

Albany Police Department spokeswoman Phyllis Banks said the incident occurred at 7:15 p.m. Witnesses said Leanear had been sitting outside the Whitney Avenue facility before driving the truck through the front doors.

"He was attempting to commit suicide," Banks said.

The collision shattered glass in the facility's right set of double doors, which were bent slightly by the impact.

"I was working on a news release last night when I heard this big crash," ACRI Executive Director Lee Formwalt said Friday. "I walked out into the lobby and saw there was a white pickup truck in the foyer between the sets of double doors. I was like, 'I don't believe this.'

"Then I called 911."

Shortly after the impact, Formwalt said a woman ran up to the driver's side of the vehicle.

"I think she was trying to revive the driver," Formwalt said. "Then another woman went up to the passenger side, and I went outside and asked if he was breathing. Then the EMTs showed up, and at that time the driver bolted upright and let loose a string of profanities. He was talking, but not making much sense.

"Seconds later the police showed up. He was uncooperative, and they put him into the car."

Formwalt said the driver was "a person of color."

Leanear was taken into custody and then transported to Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, where he was treated and released.

No charges have been filed at this time, and the case is currently under investigation.