Four people were injured and one woman was killed in a mass shooting Wednesday in a downtown Atlanta medical office waiting room, local law enforcement said.
The suspected gunman, a 24-year-old man, entered Midtown medical building and shot the victims around noon, police said. He escaped in a stolen vehicle, kicking off a manhunt before he was taken into custody without incident later that evening, they said.
The victim who was killed has been identified as Amy St. Pierre, a 39-year-old who worked for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to a statement from the agency.
The other victims, all women, were brought to Grady Memorial Hospital for treatment, Grady’s chief medical officer Robert Jansen, M.D., told press in a Thursday news conference. One remains in the intensive care unit while two are considered critical and will return to the operating room, he said.
"Unfortunately, in this day and age, seeing shooting victims is almost a daily occurrence here," Jansen reportedly told reporters. "But when they come in like this, particularly because it happened in a healthcare setting, it resonates more."
Laureate Medical Group, the medical group that runs the Midtown office, has closed all of its locations for Thursday and Friday.
Northside Hospital, the system with which Laureate is affiliated, said it will be holding a day of reflection on Friday for the organization’s staff and community members.
“We are incredibly grateful for the quick and courageous response of Atlanta-area law enforcement. Northside also thanks our colleagues at Grady Memorial Hospital for the care being provided to the victims,” the system said in an online statement. “Their actions brought comfort and safety to our patients and staff at Northside Medical Midtown.”
Atlanta police said the suspected shooter’s motives are still under investigation. He’d had an appointment at the facility at the time of the shooting, law enforcement officials said.
The suspect’s mother told the Associated Press that her son, a former Coast Guardsman, had sought lorazepam for mental health issues including anxiety and depression but was denied by a Veterans Affairs health system. She blamed the decision for his actions.
“Those families lost their loved ones because he had a mental break because they wouldn’t listen to me,” the mother, who is a nurse and had accompanied her son to the Midtown medical building on Wednesday, told the AP.
The suspect has been charged with murder and four counts of aggravated assault, according to an NPR report citing jail records.
In an open letter released Thursday morning, Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens expressed his sympathy to the victims and thanked law enforcement and Grady for their responses to the shooting.
The mayor reiterated that an investigation is ongoing but said that mass shootings like the incident that occurred Wednesday are “tragically too common in America.” He said that the city is investing in law enforcement and “non-policing activities” such as violence interruption alike but that the country needs national action to better address mental health treatment and inappropriate access to firearms.
“While we respect the rights conveyed by the 2nd Amendment, we also need more actions to protect the rights of our citizens to go about their lives—to go to a doctor’s office, a supermarket, a gas station, their school—without the threat of being gunned down,” Dickens wrote.