Police are still investigating the events that transpired in the four hours between that first 911 call and the time residents were cleared to move about the building. When the dust settled, one woman was found dead inside her apartment on the 21st floor, and the body of Jarvis Jarrette, 32, of Milledgeville, lay on a balcony.
The GBI is investigating Jarrette’s death as an officer-involved shooting, the 79th such case the state agency has opened this year.
“Sadly, we could not address what happened inside an apartment, but it is our quick response that I think saved our community from a much worse incident,” Bryant said.
Authorities described a chaotic predawn scene.
When the first officers responded, Jarette was “actively shooting from a balcony” on the 21st floor, a GBI spokeswoman said in a news release. Dispatchers could hear the shots in the background of other 911 calls made from inside the apartment tower. Footage obtained by Channel 2 Action News from witnesses revealed that Jarette was yelling at officers during the brief standoff.
“Jarrette fired a rifle at responding officers, and at least one officer returned fire,” spokeswoman Nelly Miles said.
Bryant said officers quickly “contained” the man, but it took time to make a thorough search of the building for victims or other gunmen. Investigators believe the initial gunfire was limited to the woman’s apartment, and no one else inside the tower was injured. One witness told Channel 2 that a water pipe was struck by gunfire, resulting in a leak.
Jarrette and the slain woman knew each other, but Bryant said it is too early to determine a motive in her death. Her name was not released.
For hours, police described the situation as an “active shooter” and blocked West Peachtree Street between 10th and 14th streets, positioning SWAT units outside the building. Atlantic House management sent an early morning email imploring all residents to stay in their apartments, according to Channel 2.
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said citizens shared more details about what was happening on social media than with emergency dispatchers, hampering the police response. Her comments come days after a woman was raped on a commuter train outside Philadelphia while multiple people held up their cellphones, instead of intervening, according to Pennsylvania authorities.
“We just ask that you put down your camera, put down your phone and call 911 and then allow us to do what we do,” Bottoms said from the scene.
Anyone who captured cellphone video is asked to send it to the GBI via the See Something, Send Something mobile app.
Credit: JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM
Credit: JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM
Wednesday’s police response brought to mind multiple incidents that temporarily shut down large swaths of Midtown earlier in the year.
The first took place in February at the same building when a construction crane malfunctioned and tilted precariously outside the high-rise. The building was evacuated and several blocks around the crane were shut down for about two weeks before the crane was stabilized and the area deemed safe.
The early morning swarm of police was also reminiscent of a shooting at another Midtown apartment in July that wounded an Atlanta police officer. According to authorities, Khuong Thai was shot in the face when he and another officer stepped off an elevator and were “ambushed” by Joseph Lee Humbles, 29, inside the Solace on Peachtree Apartments. The officers returned fire, killing Humbles.
Officers flooded into Midtown that day on motorcycles, helicopters and SWAT vehicles after the shooting, shutting down several blocks of Peachtree Street. That scene was also attended by Bottoms, who has been criticized for stepping back from the spotlight after announcing she will not seek a second term.
The mayor and the police chief spoke in solidarity Wednesday.
“This is a testament of where we are as a police department,” Bryant told reporters at the conclusion of the standoff. “So often, the question (is raised) of what’s the morale of our police department? Do we have our capacity to respond? The answer is yes.”