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    Gunman hijacks bus in Atlanta with 17 people on board; 1 person killed

    By Natalie Neysa Alund, USA TODAY,

    2024-06-12

    In a brazen attack during late afternoon rush hour Tuesday, a gunman hijacked a public bus from downtown Atlanta with 17 people on board, held a gun to the bus driver’s head and fatally shot one passenger.

    The incident, which led to a multijurisdictional police chase along Interstate 85 and spanned two counties, began about 4:20 p.m. EST in Gwinett County, Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum said during a press conference after what city officials called "a frightening journey."

    Law enforcement said the suspected gunman, identified as Joseph Grier, 39, of Stone Mountain , was eventually taken into custody by officers after a Georgia State Patrol Trooper fired a shot from his patrol rifle into the engine compartment of the bus causing the vehicle to malfunction and come to ta stop in DeKalb County

    Police identified the fatal shooting victim as Earnest Byrd Jr., 58.

    The hijacking and shooting took place on the heels of three people and a 34-year-old suspected shooter being shot at a downtown Atlanta food court earlier Tuesday afternoon.

    Here's what we know so far about the bus hijacking and shooting:

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    How did the bus hijacking unfold?

    According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation , preliminary information shows at about 4:20 p.m Tuesday, a Gwinnett County Transit bus picked up passengers in downtown Atlanta.

    The stop is a couple blocks south of the Civic Center subway station and northwest of the city's Hotel District neighborhood.

    https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=10fBfw_0top9k4h00
    In a brazen June 11, 2024 attack during afternoon rush hour, a gunman hijacked a public bus from downtown Atlanta with 17 people on board, held a gun to the bus driver’s head and fatally shot one passenger. The scene led to a multijurisdictional police chase across two counties. Mallory Lindley

    Grier, one of the passengers that boarded the bus, got into an argument with a male passenger who pulled out a gun. According to a news release from the GBI, Grier took the gun from the passenger and began threatening other passengers.

    "Grier then shot the passenger and ordered the bus driver to flee the scene while threatening passengers with the gun," the GBI wrote.

    About that time, Schierbaum said, police received a 911 call reporting a gunman on the bus was holding hostages and "that there had possibly been a discharge of a weapon." The call, the chief said, then disconnected.

    Shortly after, the chief said, 911 received a second call from a family member of a person on the bus who texting them saying the bus had been hijacked and people onboard were being held hostage.

    A high-speed police pursuit

    Local and state law enforcement agencies began pursuing the bus as it traveled north into Gwinnett County and then traveled east into DeKalb County. During the pursuit, the bus hit several police vehicles, the GBI reported.

    During the pursuit, police employed various tactics to stop the bus, and at one point, Atlanta police reported, officers threw spike strips down.

    The bus’s tires were flattened during the pursuit, but the bus continued to flee, the GBI reported.

    https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=24fleX_0top9k4h00
    In a brazen June 11, 2024 attack during afternoon rush hour, a gunman hijacked a public bus from downtown Atlanta with 17 people on board, held a gun to the bus driver’s head and fatally shot one passenger. The scene led to a multijurisdictional police chase across two counties. Mallory Lindley

    Eventually, a trooper got a rifle and shot into the engine compartment of the bus causing it to malfunction, and the pursuit ended along a roadway in Stone Mountain − about 21 miles northeast of where the bus picked up Grier.

    At that time, Grier was taken into custody "without further incident" the GBI reported.

    Byrd, the passenger allegedly shot by Grier, was taken to a local hospital and pronounced dead.

    Bus driver also taken to hospital for injuries

    The bus driver was also taken to a local hospital for unspecified treatment.

    Law enforcement did not report any other injuries.

    On Wednesday it was not immediately known whether the bus driver had been released from the hospital.

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    Shooting victim's name being withheld pending family notification

    Byrd's official cause of death will be determined following an autopsy by the Fulton County Medical Exaimer's Office .

    The GBI will conduct an independent investigation of the use of force and when complete, the case will be handed over to the DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office for review.

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    Gunman is convicted felon, police said

    Schierbaum said Grier is a convicted felon with 19 previous arrests.

    Police said they arrested Grier on charges of murder, hijacking a motor vehicle, felony gun charges as well as multiple counts of aggravated assault, multiple counts of kidnapping.

    Online jail records show Grier was being held at the Fulton County Jail on Wednesday afternoon without bond.

    It was unclear when he is due in court.

    It was not immediately known if he had obtained an attorney.

    Natalie Neysa Alund is a senior reporter for USA TODAY. Reach her at nalund@usatoday.com and follow her on X @nataliealund.

    This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Gunman hijacks bus in Atlanta with 17 people on board; 1 person killed

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