Photo courtesy of APD
ATLANTA - A standoff which seemingly held a terrified northwest Atlanta neighborhood hostage for several hours ended late Wednesday afternoon.
Atlanta police said officers drove up to a gun battle in progress at the Rolling Bend Apartments located on Center Street near Hightower Road around 12:45 p.m. Two groups were firing shots at each other as officers pulled up to the scene and took cover.
“Just a whole bunch of shots like we was in war with someone, people screaming, people hiding and running,” said concerned parent Shareka Brazier.
One person was shot at the scene, according to police. That person was rushed in stable condition to Grady Memorial Hospital.
Police said about 100 officers ended up responding to the scene. They spotted several of those involved in the shootout running into the apartment complex and getting into vehicles to flee the scene.
Inside the apartments was a community center with children who heard the whole thing. Residents said they heard more than a hundred shots fired.
“When we heard it, they all hit the floor,” said Vanessa Cox, who works at the community center.
“Everybody just hit the floor and we all started crawling down the hallway to the bathroom,” said Rev. Hill.
Reverend Larry Hill told FOX 5 that he and 15 other people were inside the Community Center at Rolling Bends when they heard the gunshots. Hill said they all dropped to the ground and the group took cover in the bathroom for about 45 minutes holding hands and praying. Cox said her boss sent her an urgent text from inside the center.
“It was pleading for help and he said he was stuck in the center and there was an active shooter. He had two Emory students, about five parents and a couple of kids. They were locked in the community center and they needed help,” said Cox.
Police said they had to keep the apartment on “lock down” while they obtained a warrant to search apartments in Building D, believed to be where some of the gunmen ran. Folks stuck inside were forced to shelter in place until then.
“Everybody in the building was physically alright, but he was trying to keep the students from Emory, trying to keep them calm as much as he can. Of course the children were in there for quite some time, so they have babies that's hungry. And the facilities are up to par, so they can get what they need,” said Cox.
As investigators continue to piece together how the shootout played out, they can confirm that the gun battle took place through several block, forcing police to shut down a large portion of the Carey Park neighborhood. It also disrupted several schools in the area, while some parents are relieved it didn’t happen after school let out.
“Yeah, there's lots of kids. Thank God they did before school was out because it would have been crazy. They ride bikes, they play with each other out here. It's crazy,” said Brazier.
VIDEO REPORT: Gun battle in northwest Atlanta
Atlanta Public Schools issued the following release Wednesday afternoon ahead of dismissal:
“Atlanta Public Schools can confirm that students from Boyd elementary schools, Bunche and Harper Archer middle schools, BEST Academy, Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy and Douglass high schools who reside in the in the vicinity of Rolling Bend Apartments at 2500 Center St. are being held at their schools due to an active shooter situation in the area. APS transportation will send a secondary bus to the school to transport them home once the area is cleared. Parents also have the option of picking up their students with proper identification.”
Some residents said they were concerned over the rise in crime in the neighborhood over the last few weeks, but that this is the worst they have ever seen.
“It’s just scary, freak-like. It's horrible. Every day, every week it’s something new. We just want a proper environment to live, go to work, eat and just call it a day, but this is just ridiculous,” said Brazier.
Police said they are looking into if this was an isolated incident and if it was gang related. Some residents who did not want to be named said they believe this incident is connected to a dispute between rival groups which have been clashing on the street over the past few weeks. Police have not yet confirmed those concerns.
Police gave the "all clear" on the incident around 4:45 p.m. No arrests were made. The name of the person shot has not yet been released.
The Atlanta Police Department said they will be out in the neighborhood on Thursday, making their presence very visible.