ATLANTA - Atlanta Police gave the "all-clear" at a shopping mall Friday afternoon, shortly after officers took a man into custody who allegedly made a phone threat about a possible mass shooting.
The incident sparked a number of patrol units to set up outside of the Burlington Coat Factory on the west side of Greenbriar Mall in southwest Atlanta.
Officer John Chafee with Atlanta Police Public Affairs told FOX 5 News the phone threat came in at 9:51 a.m. Friday morning.
“We received a call from a man making threats to conduct a mass shooting ... as well as exchange gunfire with police,” Chafee said.
Police said the man, identified as 47-year-old Rason Leiniel Banks, continued to call a crisis hotline Friday afternoon and make threats.
Chafee said officers determined the calls were made near the mall. He told reporters the suspect was located in a wooded area near Greenbriar.
After Banks talked to negotiators by phone, Chafee said he came out of the wooded area and surrendered peacefully to police.
Police located a backpack outside of a dumpster, but bomb squad technicians determined the backpack was not dangerous.
“We were able to locate him on surveillance footage at the mall and saw him place a backpack behind a dumpster there,” said Chafee.
Chafee said Banks will face criminal charges including making terroristic threats, but will also receive medical attention.
“We had our tactical field officers respond with long rifles just in case this turned out to be something real, so we were prepared for it,” Chafee said.
The incident caused officials with Atlanta Public Schools to implement a soft lockdown of two schools, and closed an exit ramp off of Interstate 285.
APS officials told FOX 5 they implemented the lockdown at Therrell High School and Bunche Middle School but had been told by Atlanta Police that students were not in any danger. The schools released students as scheduled.
At one point, units with the Atlanta Police Department and the Georgia State Patrol blocked the exit ramp from I-285 Northbound to Highway 166 East, which leads directly to the mall.
“This is something very serious and real to us, so whether he followed through with it or not we're certainly glad no one was injured,” said Chafee.
While no vehicles were in the parking lot outside of the Burlington store, video from SKYFOX 5 showed vehicles in the parking areas at other sides of the mall during the incident.