Police have arrested a former U.S. Coast Guardsman suspected of killing one person and wounding four others, all women, in a shooting at a medical facility in Atlanta on Wednesday and then fleeing in a carjacking, according to authorities.
Deion Patterson, 24, was taken into custody without incident after an undercover officer observed him north of the city in suburban Cobb County several hours after the Northside Medical facility shooting at 12:30 p.m., police said.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated in an emailed statement that the woman who was murdered was a member of their staff but did not identify her. Amy St. Pierre was identified as the slain woman by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, citing her spouse Julian St. Pierre.
Police stated that the motive for the shooting and whether the suspect knew or targeted any of his victims were unknown.
"We know he had an appointment at the facility, but why he did what he did is under investigation," Charles Hampton, Atlanta's deputy police superintendent of criminal investigations, said at a press conference following the arrest.
In an earlier press conference, Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum stated that it was too early in the investigation to ascertain whether the five women who were shot were patients or employees.
The deceased woman's age was 39. According to media reports, the four wounded women differed in age from 25 to 71. Officials stated that three were in critical condition and underwent surgery at Grady Memorial Hospital. The fourth patient was treated in the emergency room of the hospital.
Schierbaum stated that they were "fighting for their lives."
Hampton stated that the shooter opened fire with a pistol and was only inside the medical facility for about two minutes before fleeing on foot and stealing a pickup truck that had been left running at a nearby gas station.
Cobb County Police Chief Stuart VanHoozer told reporters that during the manhunt, police searched a building under construction that the suspect had entered near Battery Atlanta, a commercial complex being developed adjacent to Truist Park stadium, home of the Atlanta Braves baseball team. He said, however, that the search was fruitless.
We were concerned about the suspect's proximity to the Battery because many people would be at that location, the chief said.
VanHoozer stated that police analyzed a barrage of surveillance camera images and telephone reports from the public to narrow down the suspect's location.
According to Schierbaum, the assailant arrived at the medical center with his mother, who was not injured. She and other family members, according to the police, are cooperating with investigators.
The suspect's origin was initially poorly understood.
Patterson entered the U.S. Coast Guard in July 2018 and was discharged from active duty in January after serving as a second-class electrician's mate. No reason was given for his dismissal.
Atlanta's mayor, Andre Dickens, condemned the murder as the most recent act of violence in what has become "a national epidemic of gun violence" that has made schools, workplaces, churches, and doctors' offices potential killing zones.
According to him, active-shooter scenarios have become so commonplace that a business in the area of Cobb County where Patterson was apprehended was conducting one as police closed in on the suspect.