A normal morning at a downtown Atlanta church’s food ministry erupted into chaos Wednesday when shots were fired nearby, injuring one man and bringing a swarm of police to the area.
Officers responded to the area near the Catholic Shrine of the Immaculate Conception around 10:30 a.m., Atlanta police said in a news release. At the scene, they found a man suffering from a single gunshot wound. He was taken to the hospital, where he is considered stable, police said.
Officers took a description of the suspected shooter and canvassed the area. Soon after, they spotted the suspect, who was later identified as Jamarius Rogers, near Washington Street, according to police. Rogers was detained at the scene and arrested a few hours later.
While investigators have not released any further details about the circumstances surrounding the shooting, a group of people were gathered for the Catholic Shrine’s “Morning Sandwich and Snack” ministry and witnessed the aftermath. The ministry provides a simple breakfast to people in need, no questions asked, each weekday morning between 10 and 10:30 a.m., according to the church’s website. The Catholic Shrine is located at 48 Martin Luther King Drive, just one block from the heavily secured Georgia State Capitol.
Eli Smith, 22, who regularly volunteers for the food ministry, described a chaotic scene after the gunfire. Five or six shots were fired, he told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
As Smith helped a person down the steps of the church, he said he was knocked down by the suspected gunman as he ran past. Smith saw the suspect run inside the church’s basement lobby, so he followed him. When Smith tried to speak to the man, the suspect lunged at him, so he left and called 911, he said.
While Smith was talking to the 911 dispatcher, he saw the man leave the church basement through a side exit door. Smith followed and confronted him by the church’s dumpster. When he told the man he was on the phone with 911, the suspect “took off,” Smith said.
According to Smith, he was interviewed by police and picked the suspect, identified as Rogers, out of a photo lineup. During the incident, Smith said he did not see the shooting or the victim.
Rogers is facing charges of aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. He is accused of shooting the victim, then attempting to discard some of his clothing so he would not be recognized, police said.
— Please return to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for updates.