City of Atlanta talks about Summer Safety Plan, Tuesday's shootings

Mayor Andre Dickens, Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum and Atlanta Fire Rescue Department Chief Rod Smith spoke about their Summer Safety Plan for the City of Atlanta and two major shooting incidents that took place on Tuesday during a press conference on Wednesday morning. 

"I am both sad and angry that individuals going about their daily lives or taking a bus ride home or there for lunch or gathering. They should not have to suffer that type of trauma," Dickens said. 

In the first shooting incident, a convicted felon shot 3 people at a food court in downtown Atlanta before he was shot by an off-duty police officer.

Just a short time later, another convicted felon shot a man on a Gwinnett County Transit bus

"He did not enter the bus with a handgun. We believe there was an altercation on the bus and the hijacker disarmed the citizen then used that weapon to injure the passenger then used that weapon to force the driver to do what we saw him do," said Chief Schierbaum. 

He then held a gun to the head of the bus driver and forced him to flee from the police. 

"A passenger on the bus called 911 and kept the line open, and we do know the hijacker was trying to prevent that and using phones, but the passenger called 911 and kept the line open,"  

The bus was eventually stopped, and he was taken into custody. The man who was shot died.

"I think mental health is at play. The individual commented boldly, 'I have bipolar. I have bipolar, so y’all don't mess with me,’" Dickens said. 

Chief Schierbaum praised the bravery and dedication of the officers who responded to the incidents.

The mayor also pointed out that despite the high-profile nature of Tuesday's crimes, overall, the city has seen a drop in violence.

"In 2023 we saw a drop, a huge drop in violent crimes, homicides, and rapes, and we actually saw the fourth-highest drop in violent crimes across the nation that occurred right here in the city of Atlanta," Dickens said. 

Dickens says he is working to reduce the number of stolen guns.

"There are too many guns on our streets, there are too many guns in the hands of people," the mayor said. "We had 2,500 hundred guns seized, reported stolen to APD. And more than 1,800 were stolen from vehicles." 

The Summer Safety Plan includes new helicopters and a CARE unit to respond to non-emergency events, aiming to free up police resources for more serious incidents. 

"These are unarmed responders and they are dedicated to addressing non-emergency service calls like directing traffic and non-injury accidents. Not every incident requires a sworn police officer," said Dickens.