Gunman wounds 3 in Atlanta food court before being shot by officer, police say

Jun 11, 2024, 12:07 PM | Updated: 3:50 pm

ATLANTA (AP) — A gunman shot three people at a food court in downtown Atlanta before he was shot by a police officer Tuesday afternoon, authorities said.

All four people who were shot at the Peachtree Center food court are expected to survive, including the suspect, according to Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum.

During a news conference, Mayor Andre Dickens praised the responding officer who wounded the gunman.

“Had he not been there, things could have gotten worse,” Dickens said.

Peachtree Center is a complex of office towers and an underground mall within blocks of multiple hotels that anchor Atlanta’s busy convention business.

The shooting happened around 2:15 p.m. Schierbaum said.

The three people shot by the suspect were a 47-year-old man from Grayson, a 69-year-old woman from East Point and a 70-year-old woman from Atlanta, Schierbaum said.

The suspect, a 34-year-old man from Morrow, just south of Atlanta, had a “brief altercation” with one of the victims and pulled out a gun and shot the person, Schierbaum said. He then shot two other people, Schierbaum said. It’s not clear yet if the shooter knew the victims.

All four people were taken to hospitals and two are in critical condition, the Schierbaum said.

An off-duty Atlanta police officer who was working security at the food court engaged the man and then shot and injured him. The officer “acted decisively, placed himself in danger and ended that threat to the community,” Schierbaum said. He said the mall’s video cameras recorded the shooting and response.

The suspect had previously been arrested multiple times and had served prison time for armed robbery. Because of that prior felony conviction, he shouldn’t have had a gun, Schierbaum said.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is looking into the circumstances surrounding the shooting, which is standard practice in the state when a police officer shoots someone.

In the aftermath of the shooting, crowds of people milled around at a nearby intersection, many of them asking each other what had happened. Several blocks of Peachtree Street were blocked off with crime scene tape as police officers and firefighters converged on the scene. Nearby, there were security guards on alert at hotels and the city’s main library.

Elizabeth Ingram, of Atlanta, said she was leaving the break room of the Chick-fil-A where she works when she heard the first shots. She said a manager pushed her back into the break room and down to the floor along with other coworkers.

“We relaxed for a minute and then we heard more shooting,” she said. “So we got right back down.”

Tab Tambe of Atlanta said he had just bought lunch at the Chick-fil-A and sat down to eat when the shooting broke out. Tambe said he fell down while he and others ran away from the still-busy food court and there “was blood all over the place” near a pizza place and a Mexican restaurant. Tambe said he ran around a corner, but didn’t leave the building because he had left his phone.

“I don’t know if was just me being bold or worried about my phone, but I was just staying back to see what was going to happen,” he said.

Tambe said shots were exchanged between a police officer and the man and then he saw officers approach the shooter “bit by bit” as he peeked around the corner of a wall.

“He was on the ground, the police were surrounding him,” Tambe said.

Schierbaum said a second officer kicked the gun away from the wounded shooter, and then officers provided first aid to the four wounded people, including applying a tourniquet to stop the shooter’s bleeding, before all were taken to hospitals.

Ingram said she saw people wheeled away on gurneys.

“You never know what can happen,” she said. “It just happened out of nowhere. It was so scary my thought was I was never going to make it home to my son and that scared me. My heart was beating so fast.”

The Peachtree Center complex includes 10 office buildings, three large hotels, four buildings that hold trade shows and four parking garages. Developed by architect John Portman, it sprawls over 14 blocks of Atlanta’s downtown. Six of the office buildings were foreclosed on in 2022 after a previous owner defaulted on a loan as office vacancies grew.

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Gunman wounds 3 in Atlanta food court before being shot by officer, police say