An elementary school in Decatur, Ga., right next to Atlanta, appeared to be on the brink of a shooting disaster today as a gunman entered the Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy, dressed in black and carrying an AK-47 assault rifle. But after shots were fired, the gunman, described as a white man in his 20s, was peacefully apprehended by DeKalb County sheriff’s deputies and U.S. marshals without anyone getting hurt.
In a bizarre sequence of events, the man entered the school and told a woman in the elementary school’s office to call Channel 2 Action News and the police to report that there was a shooter in the school. When she called Channel 2, the assignment desk editor said that shots could be heard over the call.
“The call went out. DeKalb police and DeKalb marshals were clearing the building. DeKalb sheriff’s deputies and the U.S. marshal’s service had also responded. They joined in and they happened to locate the suspect in the building – without incident, without resistance,” Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne reported.
Footage on News Chopper 2 showed children running from the school building located on 2nd Avenue in Decatur.
Dekalb County Acting schools Superintendent Michael Thurmond said the suspect fired at least one shot, and the gunfire was returned by officers. County Assistant Police Chief Dale Holmes said police are taking the suspect, who was not injured, to police headquarters for interrogation.
Parents were told to pick up their children at a Wal-Mart near Gresham Road and Interstate 20. Hundreds of anxious parents swarmed the parking lot of retrieve their children, which they couldn’t do until they presented photo ID.
A mother named Kimberly said she now fears sending her daughter to school.
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“It makes me want to home school my daughter,” Kimberly said.
“I understand that my child is safe right now. But the fact that somebody can come into the school and have a weapon and me not be able to get to her, and hold her, and comfort her, because I don’t know what’s going on with her,” Kimberly said. “So, it kind of makes me just keep my daughter at home and home school her.”
A woman who lives down the street from the school told Channel 2’s Erica Byfield that she was in her kitchen when her dog started barking frantically. After hearing about five shots, she said she ran outside to look around, particularly since the school is 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 said.
“I hope they get him and prosecute him for what he’s done, because these are innocent kids,” she said.
While students at McNair Discovery Learning Academy are to report to school on Wednesday, their classes will be held at McNair High School.