Chief: Suspect at McNair elementary school had multiple guns
DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — Police detained a gunman who they say walked into a DeKalb County elementary school on Tuesday armed with multiple guns.
The suspect may have slipped in behind an employee at Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy before confronting office staff about 1 p.m., officials said.
DeKalb County Police Chief Cedric Alexander said the 19-year-old suspect fired on officers as they arrived and officers returned fire.
“When we received the call and we engaged, he started to fire from inside the school at our officers. He had one or two of the staff members inside the main office. He was holding them captive,” Alexander said.
Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne confirmed that the suspect was peacefully apprehended by DeKalb County sheriff's deputies and U.S. Marshals inside the school “without incident, without resistance.”
Winne spoke to the arresting deputies. “When I arrived at the scene I saw the male subject standing outside, shooting a couple of rounds off,” one of deputies said. No injuries were reported.
News Chopper 2 showed video of children running from the school and huddling near a fence in a field behind the building.
Alexander said that officers feared the man had explosives in the car or the building. Alexander also said the alleged gunman had multiple guns, including an AK-47.
Alexander told Channel 2’s Ryan Young firefighters cut a hole in a nearby residence so children could evacuate the school grounds through the back of that home.
“We could not bring the children around to the front of the school because we didn’t know if explosives were in the vehicle,” Alexander said. “Now, this deviates from our typical plan, but this was a very unusual situation, where we had to get the kids away from any possible explosives.”
One of the women held captive in the school office called Channel 2 Action News to report that there was a shooter in the school. She told a Channel 2 assignment desk editor that the gunman asked her to call WSB-TV and police.
"All the time of doing this I never experienced anything like this," LeCroy said. "It didn't take long to know that this was serious."
The McNair elementary office worker told LeCroy that the gunman wanted Channel 2 Action News to "start filming as police die."
The gunman then told the woman that he wanted "police to back up." Shots could be heard over the call.
Eventually the woman told LeCroy "they got him."
Parents were asked to go to the Walmart near Gresham Road and Interstate 20 to get their children. Hundreds of McNair elementary school parents flooded the parking lot to be reunited with the students, who were bused from the school. Parents were required to have a photo ID to pick up their child.
"When I first heard about the incident I had to rush to leave work, about an hour away to the school to see if everything is all right. When I got here they'd caught the guy and that's a good thing. Man I just heard all the kids are fine. Just good to have your little one back with you," parent Antoine Johnson said.
Parents at Walmart spoke to Channel 2's Lori Geary about their fears for their childrens' safety.
“My daughter called me on the telephone while I was at home and she said ‘Mom, are you listening to the news? There’s something going on at Nadia’s school. And so, she was on her way to Walmart and I came behind her,” Anna, the grandmother told Geary.
Nadia’s mother, Kimberly, said she now fears sending her little girl to school.
“It makes me want to home school my daughter,” Kimberly said.
Channel 2’s Erica Byfield spoke to woman who lives down the street from the school.
The neighbor, who did not want to give her name, said she was in her kitchen when her dog started barking frantically. After hearing about five shots, she was compelled to run outside and check her surroundings, knowing a school was nearby.
“At first, I heard some little small shots. Then, I heard ‘bang, bang, bang!’ Then, I heard, ‘doom, doom, doom shots, so I knew something was wrong,” she told Byfield.
The neighbor said she hopes the gunman pays for what he’s done.
“I hope they get him and prosecute him for what he’s done, because these are innocent kids,” she said.
Students will have school on Wednesday, but classes will be held at McNair High School. The students will maintain the same bus schedule.