Police say a man opened fire inside the waiting room of an Atlanta medical facility, killing one woman and injuring four others. Authorities swarmed the city’s bustling midtown neighbourhood in search of the suspect, identified as 24-year-old Deion Patterson.
After shooting five women on the 11th floor of a Northside medical building shortly after noon, Patterson stole a car and fled. The facility is located in a commercial area filled with office towers and high-rise apartments.
Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum said during a news conference that they believe Patterson carjacked a vehicle a short distance away and was able to flee the scene as law enforcement agencies were descending on the area. Schierbaum said a 39-year-old woman was pronounced dead at the scene of the shooting. The four injured victims were also women, aged 25, 39, 56, and 71.
The four injured victims are “fighting for their lives at Grady Hospital,” Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens told reporters. Police asked anyone with information about Patterson’s whereabouts to call 911 and not approach him.
Atlanta police said a vehicle that was stolen a few blocks away from the shooting Wednesday afternoon has been recovered in suburban Cobb County, but officials did not say whether that was the vehicle they believe Patterson had stolen.
“This is a very active search,” Schierbaum said. “We’re following up on credible leads that are currently active in Cobb County, as well as some here in the city.” Schierbaum added that Patterson’s family is “being cooperative” with investigators.
In a statement, the U.S. Coast Guard said Patterson had joined the service in 2018 and was discharged from active duty in January. He was an electrician’s mate second class at the time. Crime Stoppers is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and indictment of the suspect.
The shooting comes as cities around the U.S. have been wracked by gun violence and mass shootings in 2023. Shortly after the shooting, U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia took to the Senate floor to decry gun violence and urge his colleagues to advance gun reform.
“There have been so many mass shootings… that, tragically, we act as if this is routine,” Warnock said during a 12-minute speech. “We behave as if this is normal. It is not normal.”
The Atlanta pastor added, “I shudder to say it, but the truth is, in a real sense, it’s only a matter of time that this kind of tragedy comes knocking on your door.”
Officials have yet to determine a motive for the attack, but many are calling for gun reform to prevent future incidents. The victims’ families are in the thoughts and prayers of many, and the search for the suspect continues.
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