Investigators ID teen killed at Buckhead shopping center

The incident occurred at the Peachtree Battle Shopping Center on Peachtree Road.

Credit: Caroline Silva

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The incident occurred at the Peachtree Battle Shopping Center on Peachtree Road.

Credit: Caroline Silva

2 shot while breaking into car, cops say

Two men suspected of burglarizing a car at a busy Buckhead shopping plaza Friday afternoon were shot when the vehicle’s owner returned to find them inside it, police said.

A 19-year-old was pronounced dead at the scene and a second man was injured while running away, according to Atlanta police Deputy Chief Timothy Peek.

The teenager killed was identified Saturday morning as Atlanta resident Dontavious Cobb, according to the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office.

The second man was located shortly after the shooting at Treehouse Restaurant and Pub at 7 Kings Circle in Atlanta’s Peachtree Hills neighborhood, about a half-mile from the first shooting at the Peachtree Battle Shopping Center, Peek said. The injured man was conscious at the scene and police did not say he had any life-threatening injuries.

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Police hold news conference to talk about shooting at Peachtree Battle shopping center

Police hold news conference to talk about shooting at Peachtree Battle shopping center

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Police hold news conference to talk about shooting at Peachtree Battle shopping center

The brazen gunfire on a sunny afternoon brought business at the busy shopping center to a grinding halt — and raised more questions about safety in a neighborhood shaken by Atlanta’s ongoing crime wave.

A third man remained in police custody Friday night after the shooting at the shopping center at 2359 Peachtree Road. Police blocked off the backside of the parking lot as they investigated the incident for several hours.

It’s too early in the investigation to know if the person whose vehicle was being burglarized will face any charges, Peek said.

Police said the two men were breaking into the car as the owner came out of a store. A confrontation escalated into gunfire, and both men suspected of entering the car were hit. A witness at the scene told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that one of the men could be seen running from the parking lot immediately after shots were fired.

Authorities said they believe the second suspect may have fired his own gun at the first shooter as he fled.

ExplorePeachtree Battle the site of latest shooting at metro Atlanta shopping centers

Police did not say if the man who had been detained was the shooter. A red Jeep Grand Cherokee in the parking lot had a bullet hole in its passenger-side window. A black Honda Accord could be seen parked haphazardly next to the Jeep with its front passenger window broken out.

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The red Jeep in between the two other cars had its passenger window shattered.

Credit: Caroline Silva

The red Jeep in between the two other cars had its passenger window shattered.

Credit: Caroline Silva

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The red Jeep in between the two other cars had its passenger window shattered.

Credit: Caroline Silva

Credit: Caroline Silva

The shopping center is home to a Publix as well as several longtime neighborhood favorite shops and restaurants, including Whitehall Tavern, H&F Bottle Shop, Richards Variety Store and Cafe Lapin. The scene of the shooting is also near E. Rivers Elementary School.

John Akins, who said he has lived in the area for about five years, witnessed the shooting and said he saw one man running from the scene after the first man was shot.

“It was right over here where the victim was shot,” Akins said. “It was clear he was dead straight away, then the police were showing up.”

Akins, who said he’d had some emergency medical training in the past, told the AJC that he checked the vitals of the man who had been shot but there was nothing he could do.

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A bullet hole could be seen in the passenger window of the Jeep.

Credit: Caroline Silva

A bullet hole could be seen in the passenger window of the Jeep.

Credit: Caroline Silva

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A bullet hole could be seen in the passenger window of the Jeep.

Credit: Caroline Silva

Credit: Caroline Silva

Just a few hours after the shooting, representatives for the shopping center released a statement about safety at the property.

“On Friday afternoon, the security team at Peachtree Battle Shopping Center responded to a situation that occurred in the parking lot,” shopping center representatives said. “Our team was on-site and responded immediately and is continuing to work closely with the Atlanta Police Department. The safety of our guests is our top priority, and we are continuing to keep heightened security measures in place on-site.”

ExploreWhat would ‘Buckhead City’ look like? We crunched the numbers

Safety has become one of the largest motivating factors behind the Buckhead cityhood movement, which would annex the area where Friday’s shooting occurred. Atlanta is in the midst of its worst wave of violent crime in decades, a trend that has seriously affected Buckhead thanks to its popularity as a shopping and nightlife district.

“The city of Atlanta simply cannot keep the entire city safe. We believe it is in the best interest of the entirety of metro Atlanta to have a police force in Buckhead City that can adequately deal with crime and take the pressure off of the Atlanta Police Department by reducing the areas they need to patrol,” Buckhead Exploratory Committee President Sam Lenaeus said.

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Atlanta police blocked off most of the Publix parking lot during their investigation.

Credit: Caroline Silva

Atlanta police blocked off most of the Publix parking lot during their investigation.

Credit: Caroline Silva

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Atlanta police blocked off most of the Publix parking lot during their investigation.

Credit: Caroline Silva

Credit: Caroline Silva

Critics say Buckhead cityhood would overcomplicate the metro Atlanta area’s already complex patchwork of county and city governments while doing nothing to prevent crime, the AJC previously reported.

“Buckhead has, and always will be an important and valued part of Atlanta,” a spokesman for Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has said.

Supporters of the Buckhead cityhood movement hope to pass a bill next year that would allow residents to vote on the prospect in the November 2022 election.