A 19-year-old student has been identified as the alleged shooter killed in an exchange of gunfire with Clayton County sheriff’s deputies early Thursday near Jonesboro High School.
Jalen Ricks died at Southern Regional Hospital, where he was taken after the shootout. A Clayton County sheriff’s deputy was wounded in the incident.
Ricks was a student at Perry Learning Center near downtown Jonesboro, according to information provided in an email to Clayton school board members. Ricks had previously attended Jonesboro High before entering Perry, a 5-year-old non-traditional school that prepares students for trades.
“Anytime we lose a student, it’s a great tragedy, regardless of the circumstances” school district spokesman David Waller said.
The gunfire broke out around 8 a.m. in a neighborhood off Thrailkill Road, a street that runs behind Jonesboro High off Mount Zion Road.
Clayton sheriff’s Chief Deputy Garland Watkins told The Atlanta Journal-Constition that the incident began after a deputy spotted a motorist “speeding through a school zone, driving recklessly.”
Watkins said that when other deputies tried to stop the man, he drove into a nearby subdivision and eluded the deputies.
“A neighbor saw the guy jump out of the car, and they saw him take a weapon out of the trunk of his vehicle, which appeared to be a long rifle or something,” Watkins said.
The man laid down along the edge of nearby woods, and “as deputies and officers approached the scene, he opened fire, ambushing the officers,” Watkins said.
One deputy was shot, and deputies returned fire, striking the suspect. Both the wounded deputy and the suspect were taken to local hospitals. Channel 2 Action News reported at noon that the suspect has died.
The identity and condition of the deputy was not immediately known.
“I do know the officer was wearing his [ballistic] vest, and hopefully, the injuries are very minimal,” Watkins said. He said the wounded deputy is a member of the department’s SWAT team, but was on routine patrol when the shooting occurred.
Jonesboro High was placed on lockdown immediately after the shooting, but the lockdown was lifted by 8:30 a.m., a school secretary told the AJC. Nearby Jackson Elementary was also locked down for a short while.
Jessica Salim, who lives in the Covent Gardens subdivision where the shooting occurred, said she was awakened by several gunshots.
“I went to the front door, and there were police officers waving for me to go to the back of my house, so I went to the back of the house, upstairs, and called my boyfriend and my boss,” Salim said.
“It’s scary when it comes to your house,” she said. “That’s really, really scary.”
Salim said she was “thankful that more people weren’t hurt. I hope the officer is okay.”
Less than 24 hours after his wife was shot eight times, Michael Parson discussed wedding plans with a 21-year-old woman he had proposed to, prosecutor Linda Dunikowski said on day one of his trial for attempted murder.