Lenox Square shooting: Security guard recovering, two teens in custody

Buckhead mall was the site of at least six shootings, one fatal, in 2020

Credit: WSBTV Videos

Security guard in serious condition after being shot inside Lenox Square Mall, two gunmen in custody

Two 15-year-olds wanted to get into the Lenox Square Apple store after hours Sunday when one of the teens shot and critically injured a security guard, Atlanta police said. It was the third shooting at a metro Atlanta shopping mall in the past week.

The guard was recovering Monday while the suspects, a boy and a girl, were in custody at a youth detention center, according to police. The search continues for a possible driver who brought the teens to the mall. Investigators continued to review videos of the incident, including one posted on social media, Deputy Chief Charles Hampton said Monday.

Meanwhile, shots were fired about 20 miles away Monday afternoon near The Gallery at South DeKalb. A woman was killed and two others, included the alleged gunman, were injured in the DeKalb shooting, police said. Since October, there have been 12 shootings, two fatal, at or near metro Atlanta shopping centers.

In 2020, Lenox Square was the site of at least six shootings, including a March homicide that killed a Tennessee man, according to police. Arrests have been made in the majority of the incidents, which prompted security measures such as a weapons detector at the mall’s main entrance. A few days before Christmas, a 7-year-old was shot to death when gunfire erupted outside nearby Phipps Plaza. Phipps and Lenox, premier retail destinations in the heart of Buckhead, are owned by Simon Property Group.

“We cannot find words strong enough to condemn this violent and unprovoked action against a valued member of our security team who was providing after-hours patrol outside the mall,” a Lenox spokesperson said in a statement Monday. “Our hearts go out to this officer who was brutally attacked, and we are praying for his full recovery.”

During business hours, at least 14 off-duty Atlanta Police officers and more than 10 private security officers patrol the mall, the statement said. More than 900 cameras monitor the property around the clock and the mall recently added specially trained K-9 patrols to assist with firearm detection, it said.

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Credit: Caroline Silva

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Credit: Caroline Silva

On Sunday, the suspects arrived after Lenox closed, police said. Gunfire was reported about 8:30 p.m., more than two hours after the mall closed. The shooting happened outside the mall, police said.

Witnesses helped perform first aid to the guard before emergency crews arrived and took over, Atlanta police Deputy Chief Timothy Peek told reporters at the scene.

The suspects were taken into custody within about 10 minutes at a nearby hotel, police said. They were taken to police headquarters to be questioned before being charged.

The suspects, whose names were not released, were arrested and charged with criminal attempt to commit murder, police said. The teens are also facing charges of armed robbery, aggravated assault, tampering with evidence and weapons offenses.

The security guard, a man in his early 40s, was being treated at a hospital, where he was in critical but stable condition Monday afternoon. No one else was injured in the incident, Peek said.

“We are hopeful he will certainly get through his injuries,” he said.

Atlanta native Lia Beatty, who moved to Tampa about five years ago, was finishing dinner at a nearby restaurant Sunday night when she heard gunshots. While some diners at True Food Kitchen ducked under tables, Beatty told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution her instinct was to grab her friend and run.

“I just thought, ‘Oh my God, we’ve got to get out of here,’” Beatty said Monday. “I saw my friend’s four kids and my four kids and I thought, ‘This isn’t going to happen.’”

The two women started running and ducking, unsure if more shots would follow. When her friend fell, Beatty picked her up and carried her to a nearby dumpster, where the two waited for about two hours. The mall area was blocked off during the investigation. When the women left, they went to Northside Hospital, where Beatty’s friend was diagnosed with a broken hip from the fall.

Monday afternoon, the two were headed back to Florida, still shaken from the ordeal.

”I’m born and raised here. I grew up nearby and we went to Buckhead all the time,” Beatty said. “It’s unreal.”

The mall shooting happened days after Atlanta police Chief Rodney Bryant announced a plan to crack down on summer crimes. Because of that plan, along with a police mini-precinct inside Lenox, officers were able to immediately respond to Sunday’s shooting.

Press Conference with APD Deputy Chief Tim Peek regarding shooting incident at Lenox Square - Sunday, June 13, 2021. APD Investigating a Male Shot: 3393 Peachtree Rd NE (Lenox Square) Preliminary Information: On 6/13/21, at approximately 8:30 pm, officers responded to 3393 Peachtree Rd. NE (Lenox Square) in reference to shots fired. Upon arrival, officers located an adult male in his early 40’s, who is also a security employee with the facility, outside the location with a gunshot wound. Atlanta Fire Rescue and Grady EMS responded to the scene and transported the victim to the hospital in serious condition. A description of the suspects were provided by nearby witnesses. Officers immediately established a perimeter around the mall and began canvassing the area. During the canvass, APD officers were able to locate two suspects matching the description provided. Officers detained both suspects without incident. The suspects (one male, one female) were both transported to Atlanta Police Public Safety Headquarters to be interviewed. APD K-9 Officers also located and recovered a firearm near the scene of the crime. At this time there are no additional injuries reported. This investigation remains active and is still developing at this time. Please keep in mind the above information is preliminary in nature and can change as the investigation progresses and new information comes to light.

Posted by City of Atlanta Police Department on Sunday, June 13, 2021

Assistant Police Chief Todd Coyt told the city council’s public safety committee on Monday that the department’s summer plan is “making the needle move” in its efforts to address violent crime. He also credited the plan for the department’s ability to quickly arrest the suspects in Sunday’s shooting at Lenox.

Atlanta City Councilman Michael Julian Bond said he’s getting a lot of calls from people concerned about the mall shooting and asking if the two 15-year-olds will be charged as adults.

“People have appreciated the quick and rapid response on the apprehension of the perpetrators,” Bond said.

A number of metro agencies are investigating recent mall shootings.

On Thursday, an argument between two groups inside Southlake Mall in Morrow boiled over into the parking lot before erupting in gunfire and sending one man to the hospital, police said. Seven people were detained after more than two dozen shots were fired outside of Macy’s just before 2:30 p.m., Morrow police previously said. A 28-year-old man was hit in the inner thigh and was taken to the hospital.

Later that evening, Cody Wilson, a 19-year-old from Paulding County, was arrested and faces a felony weapons charge related to the incident.

On June 8, two men were shot after an argument inside Greenbriar Mall spilled into the parking lot, Atlanta police said. The victims told police the gunman first confronted them inside the southwest Atlanta mall before following them to their vehicle and firing multiple shots. Both were found with a single gunshot wound when officers responded shortly after 5 p.m. The men were stable when they were taken to Grady Memorial Hospital, police said.


SHOPPING CENTER VIOLENCE

Shots have been fired four times in the past week at metro Atlanta malls

Monday: Three were injured, including an off-duty DeKalb County sheriff’s deputy, during a shooting near The Gallery at South DeKalb

Sunday: A Lenox Square security guard was critically injured when teenagers opened fire

Thursday: One man was injured when shots were fired in the parking lot of Southlake Mall in Morrow

June 8: Two men were shot after an argument inside Greenbriar Mall spilled into the parking lot