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Atlanta shooting suspect is charged with murder and 4 counts of aggravated assault

Authorities say a gunman who opened fire, Wednesday, May 3, 2023, at an Atlanta medical facility, killing one, stole a vehicle shortly after the shooting in order to flee from police. The vehicle was later found at a Cobb County parking garage, pictured here on Monday, that is part of the Battery, a mixed-use development near the stadium where the Atlanta Braves play.
Jeff Amy
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AP
Authorities say a gunman who opened fire, Wednesday, May 3, 2023, at an Atlanta medical facility, killing one, stole a vehicle shortly after the shooting in order to flee from police. The vehicle was later found at a Cobb County parking garage, pictured here on Monday, that is part of the Battery, a mixed-use development near the stadium where the Atlanta Braves play.

Updated May 4, 2023 at 2:26 PM ET

The man accused of opening fire inside an Atlanta medical facility Wednesday, killing one person and injuring four others, is being charged with murder and aggravated assault, Fulton County, Ga., jail records show.

After an hours-long search, officials apprehended the alleged gunman, 24-year-old Deion Patterson, who was arrested in Cobb County — northwest of the city — shortly before 8 p.m. ET Wednesday, according to the Cobb County Police Department.

Patterson is charged with murder and four counts of aggravated assault related to the shooting that killed a 39-year-old woman and injured four other women at the Northside Hospital Midtown Medical building.

Jail records did not show whether Patterson has obtained an attorney.

At least three of the injured victims were sent to Grady Memorial Hospital and were in critical condition as of Wednesday evening, according to Dr. Robert Jansen, the hospital's chief of staff, who briefed the media Wednesday.

Police said they are looking for the suspected Atlanta shooter, identified as Deion Patterson, 24.
/ Atlanta Police Department
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Atlanta Police Department
The suspected Atlanta shooter has been identified as Deion Patterson, 24.

The injured women range in age from 25 to 71, according to Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum. It's unclear if these victims were specifically targeted by the gunman or if they are employees or patients of the medical practice, he said.

The woman who was killed has been identified as 39-year-old Amy St. Pierre, according to an affidavit obtained by NPR. The 39-year-old worked for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

"CDC is deeply saddened by the unexpected loss of a colleague killed yesterday in the Midtown Atlanta shooting. Our hearts are with her family, friends, and colleagues as they remember her and grieve this tragic loss," the federal agency said in a statement.

A motive for the shooting is still unclear as police continue to investigate.

Patterson had an appointment at the building

The events of the day unfolded at around noon local time when police received calls about a shooting in the medical center's waiting room.

The Atlanta Police Department says this suspect is allegedly responsible for a shooting that took place in the city's midtown area Wednesday afternoon.
/ Atlanta Police Department
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Atlanta Police Department
The Atlanta Police Department says this suspect is allegedly responsible for a shooting that took place in the city's midtown area Wednesday afternoon.

Patterson's mother was with him at the time, but was not one of the injured people, the Atlanta police chief said earlier in the day. The family of the alleged shooter is cooperating with law enforcement, he said.

Police later said that Patterson had an appointment in the building that day.

He spent about two minutes in the building before fleeing on foot to a nearby Shell gas station. Around 12:30 p.m., he stole a pickup truck that was left running.

Police were able to track the truck to Cobb County, where police narrowed in on their search to a building near a shopping area by Truist Park, home of the Atlanta Braves baseball team, where they arrested Patterson.

Several law enforcement agencies from the Atlanta region as well as federal agencies were involved in the investigation and the subsequent manhunt.

Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum briefs the press on the investigation of the shooting in the city and the manhunt for the suspected gunman.
Lisa Hagen / NPR
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WABE
Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum briefs the press on the investigation of the shooting in the city and the manhunt for the suspected gunman.

Schierbaum reported earlier in the day that witnesses helped by calling to report sightings of the alleged suspect in Atlanta and elsewhere in Cobb County when he was on the run. Officials credited this, along with technology, to helping track Patterson's location.

Officials were tight-lipped on many additional details about the case, as the investigation is ongoing and a criminal case is pending, officers from Atlanta and Cobb County said.

Schierbaum has said the suspect has had "minimal contact" with the police department prior to the shooting.

A witness recalls the scene after the shooting

KJ Johnson said he was in the Northside medical building when the shooting occurred. He was two floors below the scene at the time.
Lisa Hagen / NPR
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WABE
KJ Johnson said he was in the Northside medical building when the shooting occurred. He was two floors below the scene at the time.

KJ Johnson told reporters that he was in the Northside medical building for his son's medical appointment when the shooting took place.

He said he heard pops while in the office waiting room, but mistook them for a motorcycle backfiring. It was the office TV in the waiting room that alerted Johnson and the other patients of the attack.

"At that time, we had no idea there was a shooting. But then the television was on and there was breaking news on the television. And they mentioned that there was an active shooter and they gave the address and the address was the building that we were in," Johnson said outside the building.

The shooting took place just two floors above him, he recounted.

"We were [on] the ninth floor. So once everyone heard the shooting happened on the 11th floor, you can imagine that some of the folks in the room got a little nervous, a little tense," he said.

Johnson said everyone kept calm and the medical staff in the office ushered people into a secure back room while they waited for police to arrive to escort them out.

The medical staff "didn't make the matter worse by making it seem like there was some imminent threat to our health," he said.

Johnson managed to assist a patient with limited mobility walk down the nine flight of stairs to safety once he and others were evacuated.

Northside Hospital said it's cooperating with law enforcement's investigation.

The hospital tweeted, "This tragedy is affecting all of us, and we ask for patience and prayers at this time." Its Northside Medical Midtown office will be closed Thursday.

Sen. Raphael Warnock said his kids were on lockdown due to the shooting

Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock speaks in 2022 in Atlanta.
John Bazemore / AP
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AP
Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock speaks in 2022 in Atlanta.

Sen. Raphael Warnock took to the Senate floor Wednesday afternoon, decrying the afternoon's events. He said it adds yet another tragedy to America's long list of mass shootings while politicians fail to act.

Warnock, who represents Georgia, said his own children were in lockdown in their school due to the shooting.

"If I am honest I rise really with a deep sense of anger about what is happening in our country in the area of gun violence and death," he said in his address to the Senate.

He noted he made a similar speech in March 2021, soon after a gunman attacked Atlanta-area spas killing eight people — six of them of Asian descent.

There have already been 190 mass shootings in the U.S. so far this year,according to the Gun Violence Archive.The group defines a mass shooting as any event in which there were four or more victims, excluding the shooter.

"We behave as if this is normal. It is not normal. It is not right for us to live in a nation where nobody is safe, no matter where they are," Warnock said.

He listed the locations of where so many shootings in the U.S. have taken place in recent years: schools, grocery stores, workplaces, religious institutions, and spas.

"And now, today, we can add medical facilities to that list," Warnock said.

Warnock, a pastor, said prayers are not enough. He called on his fellow members of Congress to act on substantial gun safety legislation.

"In fact, it is a contradiction to say that you are thinking and praying and then do nothing. It is to make a mockery of prayer. It is to trivialize faith," he said. "We pray not only with our lips, we pray with our legs. We pray by taking action."

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Lisa Hagen
Lisa Hagen is a reporter at NPR, covering conspiracism and the mainstreaming of extreme or unconventional beliefs. She's interested in how people form and maintain deeply held worldviews, and decide who to trust.
Jonathan Franklin is a digital reporter on the News desk covering general assignment and breaking national news.