Numerous law enforcement agencies searched Wednesday for a 24-year-old man suspected of fatally shooting one woman and injuring four others in a waiting room at a hospital in Atlanta before carjacking a vehicle and fleeing the scene, police said.
The Atlanta Police Department identified the suspect as Deion Patterson and shared five photos of the alleged shooter, four of them surveillance images from the scene.
“We are dealing with someone who is armed and dangerous,” Atlanta Major Andre Dickens said in a news conference. “If you see him, don’t approach. You are to call 911.”
Authorities said the suspect may be in Cobb County after he was believed to be spotted on surveillance cameras.
There is a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and indictment, police said.
Police received a call of shots fired on the 11th floor of Northside Hospital’s Midtown location just after noon Wednesday, Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum said in a news conference.
Officials believe the suspect then carjacked a vehicle near the scene and left the area, he said. Law enforcement lies in the car, but Schierbaum could not immediately say where. Officers have not located a firearm, he said.
Police are following up on leads in the city and in nearby Cobb County, and the FBI and US Secret Service were involved in the search, Schierbaum said.
“Portions of Cobb County that border Atlanta may see heavier than normal presence,” the Cobb County Police Department wrote on Twitter.
Police lifted a shelter-in-place advisory for Midtown Atlanta on Wednesday afternoon but asked people to continue avoiding the area of the shooting.
Suspect spotted in Cobb County after shooting
Officials in Cobb County said the suspect was believed to have been in Cobb County about 10 miles away soon after the shooting.
“We actually went back and did discover that the vehicle had entered Cobb County,” Cobb County Sgt. Wayne Delk said at a press conference.
Delk said the suspect was seen at about 12:30 pm on a surveillance camera but Cobb County police didn’t review the footage until about 2:30 pm There have been no other sightings of him since then, Delk said, adding that the carjacked vehicle had been recovered by the Atlanta Police Department.
Three of four injured victims in critical condition
One woman, 39, died on the scene, he said. The four injured women – ages 71, 56, 39 and 25 – were taken to a Grady Memorial Hospital, which is close to Northside Hospital’s Midtown location, Schierbaum said.
Three of the four injured women were in critical condition from gunshot wounds, and one was stable, said Robert Jansen, chief medical officer at Grady Health System, in an afternoon news conference. The most seriously injured patient was still in the operating room late Wednesday, he said. He declined to share details about the patients’ wounds.
It was not immediately clear if the victims were patients or staff, Schierbaum said.
Jansen said the hospital issued a call for a mass casualty event and had multiple surgeons and trauma staff in the trauma bay within minutes, anticipating up to 12 patients. Northside Hospital said it would be closed on Thursday, and all appointments were canceled.
Several Atlanta Public Schools were locked down after the shooting. By Wednesday afternoon, the district announced it had received the green light from law enforcement to release students from all schools.
“Out of an abundance of caution, we have dispatched officers at every school for today’s dismissal,” the district said in a statement, telling parents and guardians to expect transportation delays.
The shooting suspect entered the US Coast Guard in 2018 and was discharged from active duty in January, according to a statement from the branch, which said it is working closely with law enforcement in the investigation.
“The Coast Guard is aware of the tragic incident in Atlanta allegedly involving Mr. Deion Patterson. Our deepest sympathies are with the victims and their families,” the Coast Guard said.
Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock said on the Senate floor Wednesday that his two children’s schools were placed on lockdown as police searched for the suspect.
“They are there. I’m here, hoping and praying that they are safe. But the truth is none of us is safe,” Warnock said.
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Warnock called on lawmakers to act on gun violence and condemned gun lobbyists. He said it was “deeply upsetting” that the shooting happened in a medical building where health care workers and first responders work to keep people safe.
“This happened in a medical facility where people are trying to find healing,” he said.
Nearly 200 mass shootings in the US in 2023
The incident is the 191st mass shooting in the US this year, defined as at least four victims hit by gunfire, according to the Gun Violence Archive, a non-profit that tracks shootings.
The White House was aware of the incident and in contact with local officials, Dickens said.
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