One dead after bus hijacked at gunpoint in Georgia; suspect in custody: Police

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(ATLANTA) — One person was fatally shot in connection with a bus hijacking that prompted a police chase through two Georgia counties on Tuesday, authorities said.

The incident began at approximately 4:35 p.m. ET in downtown Atlanta, when police responded to a report of gunfire on a Gwinnett County Transit bus and a “possible hostage situation,” the Atlanta Police Department said.

“Upon the officers’ arrival at the scene, the bus fled the location, and a pursuit ensued,” the Atlanta Police Department said in a press release.

The suspect held the bus driver at gunpoint during the hijacking, according to Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens.

There were 17 people on the bus at the time, including the bus driver, according to Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum.

During the pursuit, police received a 911 call from a family member of an occupant of the bus “saying he was receiving text messages that there had been a hijacking and that individuals were being held hostage against their will,” Schierbaum told reporters during a press briefing Tuesday evening.

Police then received another 911 call made from the bus, which remained open throughout the pursuit and provided information that helped “craft an end of this hostage situation,” the chief said.

The ensuing pursuit spanned multiple jurisdictions, during which police attempted “various tactics” to stop the bus, police said. The vehicle was ultimately disabled by a SWAT vehicle in Stone Mountain in DeKalb County, approximately 16 miles northeast of where the incident began, police said.

DeKalb County SWAT officers “strategically positioned the Bearcat to prevent any avenues of escape,” the DeKalb County Police Department said in a statement.

The suspect — a 39-year-old man from Stone Mountain — was taken into custody without further incident, police said.

SWAT officers found the gunshot victim while clearing the bus, DeKalb County police said. The victim was transported in critical condition to a local hospital, where they died, Atlanta police said. The name of the victim has not yet been released, pending family notification.

Investigators are working to determine when the shooting occurred, Schierbaum said.

No other injuries were reported.

The investigation remains ongoing, Atlanta police said.

The bus shooting and hijacking occurred after a separate, unrelated incident where gunfire broke out at a food court at a downtown Atlanta shopping center on Tuesday afternoon, officials said. Three people were injured, and an off-duty Atlanta police officer shot the armed suspect, police said.

The suspect in the bus hijacking boarded the bus near the shopping center but was not involved in that shooting, Schierbaum said. The suspects in both incidents are convicted felons, he said.

Mayor Dickens decried the spate of gun violence that occurred Tuesday and said it is the “result of too many people having guns in their hands.”

“We all have to say enough is enough when it comes to too many people having guns in their hands and using them in violence,” he said. “I’m thankful for the men and women of the Atlanta Police Department and all these agencies here that minimized what could have been even more dangerous.”

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