GBI: Officer, 2 others involved in shootout at large NW Atlanta block party

A man is dead after two people started shooting into a massive crowd early Sunday, and an Atlanta police officer answered with gunfire.

Gabriel Parker, 38, was killed during the shooting, which happened during a reunion event, according to the GBI. Officials said an Atlanta police officer returned fire when he heard gunshots ring out in the crowd, prompting the GBI to investigate the incident as an officer-involved shooting.

The event was a reunion for former tenants of the Bowen Homes public housing project, which was Atlanta’s last standing housing project when it was demolished in 2009.

The officer was patrolling the “large reunion gathering,” which had amassed a crowd of about 1,000 near the intersection of James Jackson Parkway and Hightower Road in northwest Atlanta, according to police. Shots were fired shortly after 1 a.m.

“At this time it is unclear who shot whom, but two people sustained gunshot wounds,” the Atlanta Police Department said in a statement. “One person was transported to the hospital in stable condition and the second was pronounced dead at the scene. The officer was not injured.”

Because the officer discharged his weapon, the state agency has been asked to investigate the incident as an officer-involved shooting, according to police Deputy Chief Timothy Peek.

The officer was proactively policing the party when he happened to “stumble upon” the shooting, Peek told reporters from the scene. Several gunshots rang out before he returned fire, the deputy chief said.

“We were able to determine that there were several firearms discarded or left on the actual scene,” he said. The GBI said it was processing two handguns.

Parker was pronounced dead at the scene, and a second man was rushed to a hospital.

Parker’s family has said he was attempting to break up a fight happening at the event when he was shot. Investigators have not confirmed that claim. A vigil was held Sunday evening to commemorate Parker’s life.

Parker’s body was taken to the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy. An update on the other gunshot victim was not provided.

The officer-involved shooting was the 56th the GBI has investigated this year. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution also tracks officer-involved shootings that don’t involve the GBI, and those numbers sometimes differ from the GBI’s tally.