Report: SWAT standoff suspect asked workers for ‘green cards’ before shooting

Man charged with aggravated assault; DeKalb school placed on lockdown for hours
DeKalb County police responded to reports of gunshots on Vista Brook Drive, which led to a lockdown at McLendon Elementary School.

Credit: Henri Hollis

Credit: Henri Hollis

DeKalb County police responded to reports of gunshots on Vista Brook Drive, which led to a lockdown at McLendon Elementary School.

A man arrested after an hours-long SWAT standoff in his DeKalb County neighborhood Tuesday asked about construction workers’ “green cards” before firing at them with a handgun, according to the incident report.

The suspect, who was identified as 54-year-old Russell Moffitt, was taken into custody just after 4 p.m. on four counts of aggravated assault, DeKalb police confirmed.

Details from the incident report revealed that the situation began before 9:30 a.m. when Moffitt allegedly pulled up to a group of roofers working on Vista Brook Drive, the street where he lives. The victims told responding officers they recognized Moffitt from an earlier encounter when he asked if they had their “green cards,” a term for the ID cards showing a person is a lawful resident of the U.S.

On their second interaction with Moffitt, he pointed a gun at the victims and fired multiple shots, the report said.

Around 10 a.m., shortly after Moffitt allegedly opened fire on the workers, officers swarmed the neighborhood, prompting a lockdown at nearby McLendon Elementary School. Police said he then barricaded himself inside his home on the residential street in North Decatur, which borders the elementary school property.

Officers tried to address Moffitt over a loudspeaker at times, giving him instructions to exit the home or call police. He did not respond, prompting officers to adjust their method.

Just before 4 p.m., they gave Moffitt a final warning, stating they were about to attempt to enter the home.

Minutes later, several pops could be heard from near the man’s home. Shortly after 4 p.m., two officers escorted the handcuffed suspect to the street. He was wearing a white T-shirt, and khaki shorts and appeared to be barefoot when he was placed in a police vehicle that quickly drove away.

Kel Drew, who identified himself as a longtime friend of Moffitt, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the man has been struggling in recent years. Drew added that Moffitt’s dog died just a couple of months ago and that family members have been trying to get the man help.

The barricaded man was taken into custody shortly after 4 p.m.

Credit: Henri Hollis

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Credit: Henri Hollis

“I think the police did a good job today,” Drew said from the scene. “I didn’t want to see my old friend get hurt.”

Neighbor Ellen Albright stated that negotiators spoke to Moffitt over the loudspeaker for about an hour. She said Drew explained to police that he knew the man, but officers didn’t accept his offer to help.

McLendon Elementary remained locked down until its normal dismissal at 2:15 p.m., according to DeKalb school district spokesman Donald Porter.

— Please return to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for updates.