2 officer shootings on same day bring 2021 total to 4 for Atlanta police

GBI has investigated 68 incidents this year involving cops

Credit: WSBTV Videos

GBI investigating fatal officer-involved shooting near GA Tech campus

State investigators are looking into three separate shootings involving law enforcement officers that happened within a 10-hour span Sunday — including two within a mile of each other in Atlanta.

The shootings in Atlanta bookended the violent day, resulting in one man being killed and another hospitalized. In the first, officials said a man swinging a metal pipe was left in critical condition after he was shot by an Atlanta police officer. Later, police said another man armed with a gun was shot to death during a confrontation with officers near Georgia Tech.

The GBI was asked to investigate both incidents, which are among the 68 shootings involving police officers the agency has been requested to probe this year. By the same time last year, the GBI had opened 66 investigations into officer-involved shootings and finished the year with 96 cases.

The incidents come as Atlanta police and local leaders are fighting to reduce violent crime, which has had a hold on the city for more than a year. Homicides in 2020 skyrocketed to the highest point in two decades, and the deadly trend has continued in 2021 with Atlanta reaching 100 murders before the end of August.

While the homicide count continues to climb, shootings involving Atlanta police officers have declined. Including Sunday’s incidents, the GBI has attributed just four of the shootings they’ve been called to investigate this year to Atlanta police, down from nine this time last year.

The first of Sunday’s shootings began with a report of a man with a pipe near the intersection of Peachtree Place and Juniper Street in Midtown, deputy police Chief Charles Hampton told reporters at the scene. A witness flagged down an officer about 5:30 a.m. and said the man had been hitting passing cars with the pipe, the GBI said in a news release.

The officer learned the man had also hit another person with the pipe, “causing non-life-threatening injuries to the citizen,” the GBI said. Authorities said it is not clear what prompted the man to start swinging the pipe.

Zone 5 Officer Involved Shooting Peachtree Street at Peachtree Place

Posted by City of Atlanta Police Department on Sunday, August 29, 2021

The officer got out of his patrol car and approached the man who was holding the pipe, the GBI said. The officer gave the man “numerous verbal commands,” but he did not comply and started walking toward the officer.

“The officer discharged his taser, which did not stop the man from advancing with the pipe,” the GBI said. “The officer discharged his firearm, striking the man.”

Hampton said the officer fired at the man several times. He was taken into surgery at Grady Memorial Hospital and was in critical condition Monday. His name has not been released.

The person hit with the pipe was also taken to Grady for an arm injury, Hampton said, and the officer who fired the shots was not injured. The deputy chief said the officer’s body-worn camera was turned on and surveillance cameras in the area may have captured the moments leading up to the shooting.

“We will be obtaining those videos to see if they captured any of the incident,” he said.

By 10 a.m., the GBI was en route to another shooting involving officers in Clinch County on the Georgia-Florida line. Investigators said 50-year-old Tracy Alan Guess was shot by a Homerville police officer after taking another officer’s Taser and trying to stun him with it.

Guess was taken to a hospital with a gunshot wound to the leg.

About 2:40 p.m., another police interaction in Atlanta ended in a shooting when an armed man got out of his car and activated the slide on his weapon, police said.

Officers from multiple agencies were called to Home Park Avenue near the Georgia Tech campus after receiving reports of an armed person who intended to harm himself, Atlanta police said in a statement. Georgia Tech police and Georgia State Patrol troopers were already on the scene when Atlanta police negotiators arrived “in an effort to de-escalate the situation,” the city agency said.

Officer Involved Shooting 10th & State Street Deputy Chief Timothy Peek

Posted by City of Atlanta Police Department on Sunday, August 29, 2021

Gray Bell, 40, of Roswell, attempted to leave the scene when police arrived, the GBI said in a statement Monday, but troopers boxed him in with their cars.

When officers began approaching the man’s car, he pulled out his weapon, Atlanta police Deputy Chief Timothy Peek said. Bell was given “multiple verbal commands” to drop the gun, but did not comply, according to Peek.

As officers continued to approach him, Bell got out of his car and chambered a round in the gun, the GBI said. At that point, the troopers and an Atlanta officer fired, striking Bell, the state agency said.

Bell was taken to a hospital but did not survive.

The earlier shootings involving Atlanta police officers this year were on June 30 and July 25, both of which were fatal.

Joseph Lee Humbles, 29, of Atlanta, was killed in late June after allegedly opening fire on two officers inside a Midtown apartment building. One of the officers, Khuong Thai, was struck twice by gunfire. Other officers returned fire, killing Humbles.

Less than a month later, 38-year-old Gabriel Parker was killed after two people started shooting into a crowd and an Atlanta officer answered with gunfire, the GBI said. The incident happened during a reunion for former tenants of the Bowen Homes public housing project.