Today’s AJC Deja News comes to you from the Friday, July 30, 1999, edition of The Atlanta Constitution. 

Nine dead in Buckhead offices, a family of 3 in Stockbridge, then a suicide



On July 16, employees of an Alpharetta financial tech company, Fiserv, were evacuated from their building as police searched each floor during an active shooter scare.

The Fiserv event was a false alarm, but 20 years ago metro Atlantans witnessed mass shooting violence in real time as a horrifying scene played out in Buckhead.
On a late July afternoon, Mark Barton walked into Two Securities Centre and started shooting. Then he crossed the street to Piedmont Center and did it all again.

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“Police in Atlanta and Stockbridge say they believe Mark Orrin Barton ... started a bloodbath by killing his wife and his two children, then shooting nine people to death [yesterday],” the AJC’s Jack Warner wrote in the paper’s July 30, 1999, front page lead story.

A chemist by trade, Barton lost more than $500,000 day trading stocks at Momentum Securities and the All-Tech Investment Group, both located in Buckhead.

Anyone watching television in metro Atlanta on July 29 had already been introduced to Barton. Local stations rushed to the Buckhead shooting scene as news of the shootings broke, interviewing shaken employees and some of Barton’s fellow day traders. As Barton attempted to flee the city, viewers watched live aerial shots as police tracked him to an Acworth gas station parking lot, where he killed himself as officers closed in.

Credit: AP Photo / Henry County Police

Credit: AP Photo / Henry County Police

Police didn’t need TV to tell them about Mark Barton. He was a prime suspect in the 1993 deaths of his first wife and her mother, but never faced charges. Debra Spivey Barton and her mother, Eloise, were hacked to death with a heavy blade at Weiss Lake in Alabama.

Six years later, facing divorce, Barton killed his second wife and his two children from his first marriage with a hammer.

“I don’t plan to live very much longer,” he said in a note left at his wife’s Stockbridge apartment before heading to Buckhead. “Just long enough to kill as many of the people that greedily sought my destruction.”

"In all, at both offices [where he day traded], Barton had fired 39 times, hitting 22 people," AJC columnist Bill Torpy wrote in a July 25, 2009, story marking 10 years since Georgia's worst mass shooting.

In the 20 years since Barton's shooting spree, Buckhead has gone from being Atlanta's weekend party spot to its booming, bustling financial district. The office complex Barton targeted is still there, but the surrounding area is now a mini-city of its own; slick, glossy high-rises dominate the landscape and opulence rules the day.

These days, local and state officials seek proactive measures aimed at preventing mass shootings before they happen. Many metro Atlanta police departments offer citizens training on how to respond during an active shooting event. And according to the FBI, there has been a rise in the number of active shooter incidents — and deaths stemming from active shootings — in the United States since 2000.

Credit: AP FILE

Credit: AP FILE


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