ATLANTA - Atlanta police have arrested two 15-year-olds in the shooting of a security guard who was held at gunpoint at Lenox Square Mall Sunday night.
The mall had just closed at around 8:30 p.m. Sunday when police say the two teenagers attempted to enter the building near the entrance to the Apple Store.
The suspects' charges included armed robbery, aggravated assault and various gun possession charges. Police said the teenage suspects' names will not be release and they don't have a history of violent crimes, but it's not believed to be their first encounter with law enforcement.
"Based on the video, evidence and interviews we are confident in the charges," APD Deputy Chief Charles Hampton said.
Although arrests have been made, the investigation is not over, police said.
Witnesses tell FOX 5 the shooters were wearing masks, with one holding a pistol and the other yelling for people to put their hands up.
Not long after, officials say they shot the guard, described as a man in his early 40's, in the torso.
Within seconds, dozens of officers descended on the area to search for the fleeing suspects.
"We were able to render aid from the security guard and get information from the witnesses, which ultimately led us to the direction and location where the suspects fled to," APD Deputy Chief Timothy Peek said.
Police set up a grid search that led them to the nearby Westin Hotel, where they say a 15-year-old boy and a girl of the same age were taken into custody.
In a statement released on Monday afternoon, Lenox Square management condemned the violence writing:
"We cannot find words strong enough to condemn this violent and unprovoked action against a valued member of our security team who was providing afterhours patrol outside the mall. Our hearts go out to this officer who was brutally attacked, and we are praying for his full recovery. This brave man and his colleagues come to work every day to protect the rights of our tenants to safely conduct their business and the rights of our shoppers to enjoy their experience in peace. We are grateful for everything they do, and they have our full and unwavering support.
"At Lenox Square, we have invested millions and millions of dollars into one of the largest private security programs in the state of Georgia and we remain committed to doing all that we can in partnership with the Atlanta Police Department (APD) to curtail the crime that has infested the Buckhead community.
"But more must be done, including real action by our leaders to invest in public deterrents, fully hold criminals accountable and restore public confidence that Buckhead is safe to visit and enjoy. Without this, those who commit these crimes will remain undeterred.
"We are immensely grateful to the APD for their strong partnership with our team at Lenox Square. Because of our longstanding work together and effective response plans, they were on the scene within minutes, rendering critical aid to our colleague and swiftly capturing the criminals involved. Our message to criminals continues to be: ‘Think twice before committing a crime at Lenox Square because you will be caught.’"
Both teenagers have been charged with criminal attempt to commit murder, aggravated assault, armed robbery, tampering with evidence, possession of a firearm by a person under the age of 18, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. Their identities have not been released at this time.
According to officials, the security guard was taken to a nearby hospital and is listed in critical but stable condition.
Investigators credit the department's new summer crime-fighting plan for helping them make the arrests.
Hampton touted the recently-announced Summer Plan that concentrated units at several key locations in Atlanta, including Lenox Square Mall.
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