7-year-old shot in head, critically injured while riding near Phipps Plaza

City councilman blasts police leadership after latest shooting in Buckhead; $10K reward offered

A $10,000 reward is being offered after a 7-year-old girl was shot in the head Monday evening while riding in a relative’s vehicle near Phipps Plaza in Buckhead.

The victim’s aunt drove straight to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite, where the child was immediately rushed into surgery, police said at news conference Tuesday afternoon.

Officers were called to the hospital about 9 p.m. to investigate the shooting, which investigators believe started as a fight between several men in the parking lot outside Saks Fifth Avenue.

The aunt told responding officers she remembered hearing several gunshots as she drove past the luxury shopping center on Peachtree Road, APD interim police Chief Rodney Bryant told reporters at a news conference Tuesday.

The aunt continued driving but later realized that her niece had been shot and rushed her to the hospital, Bryant said, adding that the child’s mother was also in the car at the time of the shooting.

The little girl, who lives in the Mableton area, remained in critical condition Tuesday, authorities said.

APD Homicide Commander Lt. Pete Malecki said the Lexus the little girl was riding in was not the intended target of the shooting. Investigators are still reviewing surveillance footage from the parking lot, but as of Tuesday evening, no arrests had been made.

“I am confident that we will have a resolution to this shooting and will bring the individuals to justice as this continues to unfold,” Bryant told reporters, calling the shooting senseless.

The incident is the latest shooting in what has been a violent year for the Buckhead shopping district. Since December 2019, Atlanta police have investigated seven gunfire incidents at nearby Lenox Square. Arrests have been made in most of the shootings, including a March incident in the parking lot that killed a Tennessee man.

ExploreA violent year at metro Atlanta shopping centers includes shootings, fights

In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, City Councilman Howard Shook blasted police leadership, calling the child’s shooting the “latest and most painful example of the utter lawlessness that defines what it means to live in Atlanta.”

“To the administration, I don’t want to hear the word ‘uptick.’ Stop minimizing our concerns by telling us that ‘crime is up everywhere.’ Spare us from the lie that the steady outflow of our officers isn’t as bad as it is. And please, not another throw-away press conference utterly devoid of game-changing action steps.

“It will take a lot to turn this around,” he continued. “But here, in descending order, are the three things we need to begin: 1). Leadership; 2). Some Leadership; 3). Any leadership.”

Simon Properties, the group that owns both Lenox Square and Phipps Plaza, announced earlier this month it would install metal detectors at Lenox and hire police dogs to keep guns out of the mall. No plans were announced for Phipps Plaza, which is considered the higher-end destination of the two upscale shopping malls.

Atlanta police have also beefed up their security presence in the area during the busy holiday shopping season, the chief said Tuesday.

ExplorePolice increasing patrols at Lenox Square after latest shooting

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