DECATUR, Ga. -- A sheriff’s official says a gunman carrying an assault rifle fired shots into the air outside an Atlanta-area elementary school and was taken into custody a short time later.
Dramatic television footage showed young students racing out of the building, being escorted by teachers and police. No one was injured and all students and teachers were accounted for and safe, authorities said.
Children were reunited with their parents at a nearby Walmart.
DeKalb County Sheriff administrative aide Lt. Kyle Jones says the suspect was dressed in all black.
Jones says the suspect surrendered without trouble when U.S. Marshals and officials from the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office found him in the school’s front office.
The 19-year-old suspect’s identity has not yet been released. Jones says he was being held for questioning at police headquarters.
According to WSB-TV’s website, a woman in the school office called to say a gunman asked her to contact the Atlanta station and police. WSB said during the call, shots were heard in the background.
Numerous police were at the school and SWAT was there for a time. The suspect is a man in his mid-20s and didn’t have an obvious connection to the school, DeKalb County schools Superintendent Michael Thurmond told The Associated Press.
WSB-TV assignment editor Lacey Lecroy said she spoke with the woman in the school’s front office who told the station she was alone with the suspect and the man’s gun was visible.
"It didn’t take long to know that this woman was serious," Lecroy said. "Shots were one of the last things I heard. I was so worried for her."
The school has about 870 children enrolled. The academy is named after McNair, an astronaut who died when the space shuttle Challenger exploded on Jan. 28, 1986, according to the school’s website.
The school’s doors are normally locked, parents said.
"I took (my son) to school this morning and had to be buzzed in," she said. "So I’m wondering how the guy got in the door." She said before what happened Tuesday, she thought of the school as safe and was satisfied with its procedures.
Jackie Zamora, 61, of Decatur, was at the Wal-Mart waiting and said her 6-year-old grandson was inside the school when the shooting was reported and she panicked for more than an hour because she hadn’t heard whether or not anyone had been injured.
She said the school has a set of double doors where visitors must be buzzed in before showing a form of identification to a camera to be allowed in.
"I don’t know how this could happen at this school," Zamora said. "There’s so much security."