Police detail the manhunt that ended in arrest of Atlanta shooting suspect
May 3, 2023, 10:00 PM | Updated: May 4, 2023, 10:14 am
(CNN) — After a nearly eight-hour, chaotic manhunt, authorities captured the man accused of opening fire in a Midtown Atlanta medical building Wednesday and killing a 39-year-old woman and wounding four others.
The suspected gunman, 24-year-old Deion Patterson, went inside Northside Medical Midtown just before noon and shot the first victim shortly after, Atlanta Police Deputy Chief Charles Hampton said. The suspect used a handgun in the attack, authorities said, before fleeing on foot and hijacking a vehicle nearby.
The women wounded in the shooting range in age from 25 to 71.
The mass shooting — the latest in a series of gun violence across America — sent Atlanta’s bustling Midtown community into shock as authorities asked residents and patrons visiting the area to shelter in place while police searched for the gunman. It was a “traumatic day,” for the city, its mayor said.
“This was a horrible act of gun violence, but equally horrifying is that we know that this is not unique in our country,” Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens said Wednesday night. “We need more actions (for) the rights of our citizens to go about their lives, to be able to go to a doctor’s office, to a supermarket, to a gas station or to their school without the threat of being gunned down.”
In a news conference announcing the arrest, Hampton said the suspect spent about two minutes in the medical center before he left on foot and went to a nearby Shell station. There, the gunman found and took an unattended pickup truck, Hampton said Wednesday night.
Roughly 20 minutes later, cameras picked up the vehicle’s tag number and police were alerted the suspect was in Cobb County, just northwest of Atlanta, he added.
“Technology played a huge role,” Cobb County Police Chief Stuart VanHoozer said during the news conference. “But technology doesn’t do any good without people who are determined to capture an individual that would do something like this. And today we saw where those two things came together.”
Including the shooting at the Atlanta medical facility, there have been at least 191 mass shootings in the United States this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive, which, like CNN, defines a mass shooting as one in which four or more people are shot, excluding the shooter.
Undercover officer found suspect in gated condo complex
The suspect was captured inside a gated condominium complex in Cobb County, a little more than 10 miles north of where the shooting unfolded, residents told CNN.
Christy Colwell — a Waterford Place resident — said dogs barking within the complex caused her concern that the suspect could be hiding in the pool area, which includes a gazebo. She informed a police officer who was at the facility responding to a noise call.
“He just started running — the police officer — and said, ‘Get on the grass! Get on the grass!'” said resident Debra Sansavieri. “Suddenly about 30 police cars came flying down.”
A 911 call operator alerted officers to a call that they believed had the potential to be the suspect, VanHoozer said.
“We prioritized that call on the radio,” he said, adding both undercover and uniformed officers were sent to the scene.
“I believe … that an undercover officer was the one that originally saw and confronted this individual and was able to then have back-up from uniformed officers that came in and took him into custody without incident,” VanHoozer said.
Suspect was seeking new treatment
A high-level source with the Atlanta Police Department told CNN that, according to Patterson’s mother, the suspect was seeking new treatment after being dissatisfied with the care he was receiving from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
CNN has reached out to the VA for comment.
The suspect was a former Coast Guardsman. Patterson “entered the Coast Guard in July 2018 and last served as an Electrician’s Mate Second Class,” a Wednesday statement from the Coast Guard said. “He was discharged from active duty in January 2023.”
The Coast Guard said they are working “closely” with Atlanta police and other authorities in the shooting investigation.
“Our deepest sympathies are with the victims and their families,” the statement said.
4 victims being treated at hospital, 3 of them in ICU
The four victims were taken to downtown’s Grady Memorial Hospital — Atlanta’s only Level 1 trauma center.
Three of them, who came to the hospital in critical condition, were in the intensive care unit late Wednesday evening, while the fourth victim was in stable condition, the hospital said in a statement.
The three critical patients underwent surgery before they were moved to the ICU, the statement said.
One of the critical patients needed surgery for a gunshot wound to the abdomen while the other for a wound to the arm, a hospital representative had said earlier. The third patient was taken to the hospital for a gunshot wound to the face and required an interventional radiology procedure, which is used to stop bleeding by means of catheters inserted directly into blood vessels, the hospital said.
The fourth victim, who is stable, will likely not need surgery, Grady Health System Chief Medical Officer Dr. Robert Jansen said in an earlier news conference.
Suspect was considered armed and dangerous
Police earlier issued a “be on the lookout” for the suspect saying he should be considered armed and dangerous and should not be approached.
The Atlanta Police Department released images showing the suspected shooter wearing a hoodie, asking anyone with information about his whereabouts to call 911.
Follow live updates: 1 dead, multiple shot in Midtown Atlanta, police say
A high-level source within the Atlanta Police Department told CNN the suspect and his mother arrived Wednesday for a medical appointment for himself. The man at some point became agitated and started shooting using a handgun.
Atlanta police spokesperson Chata Spikes similarly said the man was attending a medical appointment for himself when the shooting occurred. Police declined to further describe the nature of the appointment, citing HIPAA regulations.
The man’s mother, who was uninjured, is currently cooperating with police, Atlanta police told CNN.
Northside Hospital confirmed the shooting at its Midtown location, saying on Twitter it was cooperating with law enforcement.
“We urge people in the area to shelter in place and follow instructions from law enforcement on the scene,” the hospital system said. “This tragedy is affecting all of us, and we ask for patience and prayers at this time.”
Victims on stretchers and ‘waves of armored officers’
Videos shared with CNN showed police running on the scene as sirens blared. Multiple fire trucks, at least one armored police vehicle and deputies from the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office were seen outside the building, which sits in a bustling area of the city, with Google’s offices, hotels, restaurants, apartment buildings and at least two day care centers located nearby.
Atlanta resident Annie Eaveson lives at the Atlantic House apartments a block away and told CNN her building was placed on lockdown as the incident unfolded.
“I saw two people taken out on stretchers. Waves of armored officers went inside in shifts almost. You can see medical professionals huddled up in offices.”
During the search for the gunman, construction worker Eddie Mwangi told CNN he was stopped at a nearby garage, where officers approached him, asked him for identification and pulled their guns on him.
“I guess they thought it was me because when I (saw) a picture of the suspect he looked just like me,” he said. Once the situation was resolved, Mwangi was taken to an adjacent building, where he saw several nurses crying shortly after the shooting had unfolded, he said.
“It was real surreal,” he said of the sight. “You’d never thought that you could experience something like that. I mean, you see it on TV all the time, but you never actually think it’s going to happen to you.”
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