Atlanta shooting: police arrest suspect in medical practice shooting that killed one woman and injured four
The suspect's mother has claimed the alleged shooter was struggling with mental health issues, and with finding medication that worked for him
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Police have arrested a man accused of opening fire inside the waiting room of an Atlanta medical practice on Wednesday, killing one woman and wounding four others.
On Wednesday evening (3 May), police said that the suspected gunman, who they identified as 24-year-old Deion Patterson, was captured in Cobb County, just northwest of Atlanta, after allegedly fleeing the scene.
Authorities claimed Patterson shot five women on the 11th floor of a Northside Medical building, which is in a commercial area filled with office towers and high-rise apartments. News of the shooting and a gunman reportedly at large prompted workers and civilians to shelter in place for hours.
Patterson had an appointment at the medical practice, police said, and shortly after arriving shot the first victim. The shooting lasted approximately two minutes before the gunman left the building and went to a Shell gas station where he allegedly took a pickup truck that had been left running and unattended, authorities said.
A 39-year-old woman was pronounced dead at the scene of the shooting. The Fulton County medical examiner’s office identified her as Amy St Pierre. The four wounded victims were also women, aged 25, 39, 56 and 71.
Atlanta Police deputy chief Charles Hampton Jr said they remained in a critical but stable condition on Wednesday night. Mr Hampton declined to discuss any details of the investigation or possible motive, saying: “Why he did what he did, all of that is still under investigation.”
But the Associated Press reports Patterson’s mother, Minyone Patterson - who police said had accompanied her son to the medical office - claimed her son, a former Coast Guardsman, had “some mental instability going on” from medication he allegedly received from the Veterans Affairs health system that he began taking on Friday.
She said her son had wanted Ativan to deal with anxiety and depression but that the Veterans Affairs would not give it to him because they said it would be “too addicting”. She is a nurse and said she told them he would only have taken the proper dosage.
“Those families, those families,” she said. “They’re hurting because they wouldn’t give my son his damn Ativan... Those families lost their loved ones because he had a mental break because they wouldn’t listen to me.”
“We are horrified and saddened to hear of the active shooter situation in Atlanta today,” Veterans Affairs press secretary Terrence Hayes told AP in an emailed statement. “Due to patient privacy, we cannot discuss the Veteran’s personal information without written consent.”
Atlanta mayor Andre Dickens said he was happy a suspect was arrested and taken into custody alive, so there is a chance he could be prosecuted. “Right now, we’ve had a successful end to a traumatic day,” Mr Dickens said, while also advocating for tougher gun laws and stressing the importance of police training.
“I hope the city, the region, rests easy that he is in custody, but I also hope that we will stay vigilant to continue to look at a future where individuals who shouldn’t have a gun in possession won’t have one, and also that individuals are brought to justice, and also that we deal with these things that are mental health or easy access to guns.”