A man accused of opening fire in an Atlanta medical facility waiting room Wednesday, killing one woman and wounding four others, is in custody, police said.
Atlanta police announced the apprehension of 24-year-old Deion Patterson at around 8 p.m., almost eight hours after the deadly shooting.
The shooting occurred shortly after noon, police said. Patterson fled in a vehicle he carjacked and later abandoned, Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum told reporters.
The suspect and that stolen vehicle were seen by Department of Transportation cameras in Cobb County, northwest of Atlanta, around 12:30 p.m., county police Sgt. Wayne Delk said.
The shooting happened around 12:08 p.m. in an 11th floor waiting room of a Northside Hospital medical facility in Midtown Atlanta, Schierbaum said.
The suspect, later identified as Patterson, was able to flee the area as law enforcement descended on the shooting scene in Midtown, he said.
What we know about the shooting in Atlanta’s Midtown
- Police have identified the suspect as Deion Patterson, 24
- The shooting occurred at an 11th floor waiting room of a medical facility on West Peachtree Street around 12:08 p.m.
- Patterson is believed to have carjacked a vehicle and escaped the area. That stolen vehicle was seen at 12:30 p.m. in Cobb County, northwest of Atlanta, and was later found in a parking garage.
- Five women were shot, one of whom died. Three injured people were in critical condition, and a fourth was stable.
The victims, all of whom are women, have not been publicly identified.
The victim who was killed was 39. The four people who were wounded were ages 71, 56, 39 and 25, Schierbaum said. It wasn’t immediately clear if the victims were patients or hospital employees.
“It’s still too soon to know why these individuals were chosen,” Schierbaum said of the victims.
Patterson was at the medical facility with his mother for an appointment, police told NBC News.
A woman who answered at a number associated with the suspect’s mother declined to answer questions and handed the phone to an Atlanta police officer.
The shooter’s mother was not harmed in the gunfire and his family has been cooperative with investigators, the chief said.
Patterson was formerly in the U.S. Coast Guard, the maritime military branch said. He entered the Coast Guard in July 2018 and last served as an Electrician’s Mate Second Class, it said in a statement. He was discharged from active duty in January.
All four injured people suffered gunshot wounds, Grady Memorial Hospital Chief Medical Officer Robert Jansen told reporters.
The most seriously injured patient was still in surgery as of 5 p.m., another was out of surgery and was doing well, and a third underwent a procedure that uses blood vessels and is less invasive, he said. The fourth injured person was stable.
The hospital was mobilized for a possible “mass casualty event” and was ready to treat up to 12 gunshot victims, Jansen added.
“Within minutes, we had multiple trauma surgeons, multiple staff” ready for shooting victims, Jansen said. “We were fully prepared, we were anticipating up to 12 patients, fortunately we only received four.”
The Northside Hospital location where the shooting took place houses a cancer center, an orthopedic institute, a radiology unit and more, according to its website.
“This tragedy is affecting all of us, and we ask for patience and prayers at this time,” Northside Hospital Northside Hospital Healthcare System said in a statement.
Police at around 12:30 p.m. tweeted that there was an “active shooter” investigation and, told people to stay away from the neighborhood of 1110 W. Peachtree St. A shelter-in-place order by Atlanta police was lifted just after 3 p.m.
Within minutes of the police alert, the block the facility is on was flooded with squad cars and ambulances.
Peachtree Street, Atlanta’s main thoroughfare, is lined with bars, comedy clubs, shops and a variety of eateries.
There were few pedestrians on the street in what is ordinarily a busy lunch rush in Atlanta’s Midtown neighborhood, which is filled with hotels, museums and restaurants.
Atlanta Public Schools announced that nearby campuses were put on lockdown in the wake of the gunfire, officials said. Students were later dismissed.
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have been briefed on the shooting, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.
U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., said his own two children were caught up in the lockdowns.
“This is knocking on all of our doors, and I feel this this afternoon, in a very real sense,” Warnock said on the Senate floor. “I feel it in my bones because my own two children were on lockdown this afternoon. I have two small children and their schools were on lockdown responding to this tragedy. They’re there, I’m here. Hoping and praying that they are safe. But the truth is, none of us is safe.”
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.
Juliette Arcodia, Jay Varela, Katy Tur, Gemma DiCasimirro, Curtis Bunn and Lindsey Pipia contributed.