Police in Atlanta have detained a former member of the United States Coast Guard who they say shot and killed one person and injured four others, all women, at a medical facility on Wednesday before fleeing the scene in a stolen car.
Deion Patterson, 24, was identified as the suspect and taken into custody without incident several hours after the 12:30 p.m. shooting at the Northside Medical facility by an undercover officer who found him north of the city in suburban Cobb County.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed in an email statement that the victim was a female employee, but declined to provide any further details about her. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution quoted the victim’s husband, Julian St. Pierre, in identifying his wife as Amy St. Pierre.
Police did not reveal a reason for the shooting or whether the offender knew or targeted any of his victims. At a press conference following the arrest, Atlanta’s deputy police chief of criminal investigations, Charles Hampton, said, “We know that he had an appointment at the facility, but why he did what he did, all of that is under investigation.”
In an earlier press conference, Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum said that it was too soon in the investigation to determine whether or not the five women who were shot were patients or employees.
The deceased female was only 39. The ages of the four female victims cited in the media ranged from 25 to 71. It was reported that three of the victims were in severe condition and had surgery at Grady Memorial Hospital. The fourth one needed immediate medical care and was taken to the hospital.
Schierbaum Said That They Were “Fighting For Their Lives”
According to Hampton, the shooter just spent two minutes inside the hospital before opening fire with a weapon and fleeing off in an abandoned pickup truck from a nearby gas station.
Cobb County Police Chief Stuart Vanhoozer told reporters that at one point during the manhunt, officers checked a building that the suspect had entered near Battery Atlanta, a business complex being erected adjacent to Truist Park stadium, home of the Atlanta Braves baseball team. However, he said, that investigation turned up nothing.
Because “many people would be at that location,” the chief expressed concern over the suspect’s apparent proximity to the Battery.
Vanhoozer claimed that police had tracked down the suspect’s whereabouts by analyzing a flood of surveillance camera footage and phone tips from the public.
Schierbaum reported that the shooter brought his unharmed mother to the hospital. She and other family members were reportedly helping police with their investigation.
There Was Initially Scant Information Regarding The Suspect’s History
U.S. Coast Guard records show that Patterson served as an electrician’s mate 2nd class before being dismissed in January. He entered the service in July 2018. There was no stated cause for his dismissal.
The Mayor of Atlanta, Andre Dickens, has condemned the massacre as part of what he calls “a national epidemic of gun violence” that has turned institutions like schools, workplaces, churches, and doctors’ offices into potential killing zones.
According to him, active-shooter drills have grown so commonplace that a shop near where Patterson was apprehended in Cobb County was reportedly running one as police officers drew closer.