It’s been 20 years since convicted killer Mario Centobie went on an 11 day crime spree that went right through Tuscaloosa.

Captain Cecil Lancaster is now retired from Tuscaloosa Police Department, but 20 years ago he didn’t know if he’d live to see another day.

This week in 1998, Centobie was an escaped Mississippi inmate. He shot Lancaster two times during a traffic stop in Tuscaloosa and left him for dead.

“The passenger in the right front seat rolled over and fired one shot that hit me in the gun belt and folded me over,” Lancaster said describing the impact of the first bullet. “As I was rolling back, Centobie fired a second time and it caught my side and busted two ribs. I found out later it came out by back,” he added.

Miraculously, Lancaster survived.
“Being shot is something you’ll never forget, ” he told WVUA 23 News Reporter Chelsea Barton.
It lays heavy on your heart.”

Just two days after Lancaster was shot, Moody Police Officer Keith Turner was not as fortunate when he was shot and killed by Centobie.

“He had a baby at home that was a month old,” Lancaster said sadly. “That still hurts,” he sobbed,

Lancaster says he’s forgiven the man who almost took his life two decades ago, but could never forget the pain, terror and complete agony Centobie caused so many.

“Sometimes it feels like it never happened but its always part of my life. I have to carry that part knowing that I was part of an officer being killed. That weighs heavy on my heart,” Lancaster said.

Lancaster tells WVUA 23 when God spared him, he promised he’d always talk about what happened to him in hopes he could help keep it from happening to anyone else.

Cecil Lancaster witnessed Mario Centobie’s execution by lethal injection in 2005.

Categories: Local News