Chaotic scenes in Midtown as cops searched for suspect in shootings

Atlanta police used surveillance network to track, arrest woman at airport after taxi ride
Wesley Freeman (left) and Michael Shinners were shot and killed Monday in Midtown. A suspect has been arrested and charged with murder.

Credit: Family

Credit: Family

Wesley Freeman (left) and Michael Shinners were shot and killed Monday in Midtown. A suspect has been arrested and charged with murder.

About two hours. That’s how long it took police to identify, find and arrest a woman suspected of killing two men and injuring another in Midtown Atlanta on a tragic and rainy Monday afternoon.

Multiple shots fired at an upscale apartment building shortly before 1:45 p.m. sent the area near Peachtree and 14th streets, one of the busiest and most expensive in the city, into a frenzy. Shelter-in-place orders were issued, police from multiple agencies swarmed the vicinity, and a citywide manhunt was launched for a suspect named Raissa Kengne.

Police said she had left the area, dominated by million-dollar condos, luxury restaurants and office skyscrapers, in a taxi by the time officers responded to the scene. There, they found Michael Shinners dead and Wesley Freeman and Michael Horne injured.

Atlanta police employed their vast network of surveillance cameras, as well as key tips from bystanders, to quickly track and find Kengne, who was arrested by U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents around 4 p.m. at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Authorities said the 34-year-old still had the weapon allegedly used in the shootings.

The investigation and manhunt, which captivated social media users and those in Midtown during the height of the work day, was over before most had clocked out.


“I’m so proud of the men and women of this police department, who responded immediately, not knowing what was transpiring, put themselves in danger to ensure that we apprehended this person quickly before they could harm again,” Atlanta police interim Chief Darin Schierbaum said shortly after Kengne’s arrest.

Scared for their lives

Giles Patrick Manido, a taxi driver for Atlanta Checker Cab, didn’t have any idea what was going on when he arrived to pick up a customer around 2:20 p.m. at the Starling Atlanta Midtown Hotel on 14th Street, right next to Colony Square, a high-end complex full of stores and restaurants frequented by office workers during the day. He was unfazed by the massive police presence in the area, known for such landmarks as the Four Seasons Hotel, High Museum of Art and Piedmont Park.

“I managed to get there with no problem, but I didn’t know what was happening,” Manido told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Around 30 minutes before, Atlanta officers had responded to the 1280 West condominiums, where they found havoc and carnage.

Shinners, the building manager, and Horne, the building’s chief engineer, had been shot. Shinners, 60, was dead from multiple wounds to his torso, while Horne had a single gunshot wound to his torso.

While there, officers received another call about a person shot at nearby 1100 Peachtree Street, the site of BDO USA, a global accounting company with an Atlanta office. There, they found Freeman, a 41-year-old IT audit director and Kengne’s former boss, with multiple gunshot wounds. He later died at Grady Memorial Hospital.

A fourth victim was held at gunpoint in the 1280 West management office as Kengne demanded personal property from the employee, according to her arrest warrant. After shooting Shinners and Horne around 1:45 p.m., she went to the BDO USA offices and shot Freeman around 2:15 p.m., police said.

Four 911 calls made by people at both locations described the scene as chaotic and scary. A woman at 1280 West told dispatchers that two people had been shot, with one of them breathing and the other not.

“I think Michael is dead,” the woman could be heard saying on the call.

She told dispatchers she was afraid the shooter would come back so she was hiding. She told them the woman lived in the building.

A man then called to report shots fired and described the shooter as a Black woman wearing a black-and-white striped shirt. He said he heard four to five shots and thought the woman might have had a problem with the management office. She was later identified as Kengne.

“I’m scared to death to be honest with you,” the man told dispatchers.

Inside the offices of BDO USA, people were frantically trying to keep Freeman alive. A man told dispatchers the victim was in a lot of pain and face down. After he was turned over, he stopped breathing at least twice.

“Stay with us,” a man on the call can be heard saying.

In another part of the building, a man told dispatchers he heard three gunshots and someone screaming. He was hiding in his office, afraid of confronting the shooter.

“I’m terrified,” the man said. “Please hurry.”

Credit: WSBTV Videos

Cab driver with a front-row seat

As police began their search for the shooter, Schierbaum noted they were able to use some integrated cameras, as well as security office cameras from the buildings in the area, to review where the suspect had gone in real time. Witnesses told police Kengne had entered Colony Square, which allowed them to use the cameras there to find her.

Other witnesses who knew her from 1280 West told police she didn’t have a car and would often use a taxi service to get around.

When Manido pulled up in his cab, he didn’t recognize Kengne at first, though he had picked her up before. He said she asked him to take her to a home in the Ansley Park area that was only about six minutes away.

“When I got there, she told me to wait. That’s when I recognized who she was,” he said.

Manido said he had picked up Kengne twice before. And, on both occasions, she had asked him to wait because she had other stops to make. He also said he remembered her because they are both from Cameroon in west central Africa.

“She was looking through the windows, through the glass door at the front. She went to the back,” he said. “She was going back and forth, and nobody answered to her.”

That home belonged to Michael Sullivan, a lawyer who represented her for a short period of time last year while evaluating a potential claim.

After no one answered, Kengne got back in the cab and told Manido to drive her to the airport, claiming she was going to pick up someone.

Police zero in on suspect

Heading down Spring Street, Manido got a call from his dispatcher, who said they had Atlanta police on the line. Authorities immediately started asking him questions about Kengne, including her appearance.

“Everything was coming together. They hung up and called back again,” he told the AJC. “They asked me if she is breathing hard.”

He answered quietly, “No, this lady is very calm.”

As the taxi headed toward the airport, police investigators were using license plate readers to track it. Once they got on the interstate, Manido began asking the woman if she had done something wrong since the calls had been about her.

Raissa Kengne, 34, was arrested Monday on murder and other charges in a series of shootings in Midtown Atlanta. Two men were killed, and a third man was injured.

Credit: Fulton County Sheriff's Office

icon to expand image

Credit: Fulton County Sheriff's Office

She simply replied that she hadn’t and that he was safe. He dropped her off at the airport shortly after 3 p.m. before picking up another customer who was waiting for him. As he was leaving, he was pulled over by police and shown a picture of Kengne.

“Once they showed me the picture, I could not believe it because this (woman) could (have) killed me or killed herself,” he said.

Kengne was arrested at the airport without incident. She is facing multiple counts of murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and illegal weapons charges. She was denied bond Tuesday.

Caught on many cameras

Earlier this year, officers utilized the same camera technology after the shooting of 6-month-old Grayson Matthew Fleming-Gray, who died after being caught in crossfire during a shootout in northwest Atlanta. An arrest was made in less than 24 hours.

Connect Atlanta has more than 4,500 interconnected cameras that allow officers to pull up footage on their cellphones and laptops from inside their squad cars, saving them valuable time when it comes to gathering evidence and making arrests. The department already receives thousands of camera feeds from street corners and businesses into its video integration center, but accessing that footage quickly can be difficult and time consuming.

Atlanta’s businesses and homeowners can register their cameras with the department free of charge. Their surveillance systems can be integrated, which grants police immediate access to their recordings.

Popular locations, such as Colony Square, are already integrated into the network. And because of the high concentration of cameras in areas like Midtown, it becomes much more difficult for suspects to hide.

According to Midtown Alliance, the area has more than 140 cameras covering most of the district’s public right of way. Those cameras, as well as hundreds from private properties in the area, have been integrated into APD’s video surveillance system.

Midtown Blue, Midtown Alliance’s public safety program, monitors the cameras. The network was upgraded in 2020 with new hardware featuring 360-degree coverage. According to a map provided by Midtown Alliance, there are at least 10 cameras in the area of Colony Square, 1280 West and 1100 Peachtree Street.

“We were able to utilize our camera network, which is vast, and that was able to help us quickly track down the suspect,” Mayor Andre Dickens said Monday afternoon.

By next year, officials estimate at least 30,000 Atlanta businesses will be sharing their camera feeds with police.

A history of conflict

Police believe the shooting victims were “targeted” since Kengne knew them. But investigators have not released an official motive.

In a statement, Sullivan, along with Walter Jospin of Finch McCraine, said they represented Kengne for about seven weeks while evaluating a potential SEC whistleblower claim against BDO USA before dropping her as a client.

Kengne filed a federal lawsuit against Shinners, Freeman, BDO USA and 1280 West’s management company, Beacon Management Services, alleging they retaliated against her, broke into her home, persecuted her and blacklisted her from relevant job opportunities.

She is representing herself in the federal lawsuit. Kengne had not hired legal representation in the criminal case as of Thursday.

Shinners’ family said the suspect made a “reprehensible and unfathomable” choice that day to take two lives.

Freeman’s loved ones, too, were trying to come to grips with what happened. “We do not understand the deranged actions of the person who shot and killed Wes,” the family said in a statement. “We likely never will.”