Police increasing patrols at Lenox Square after latest shooting

Atlanta police plan to increase patrols at Lenox Square following the latest shooting at the mall on Friday.
Atlanta police plan to increase patrols at Lenox Square following the latest shooting at the mall on Friday.

Credit: ADA WOOD / ADA.WOOD@AJC.COM

Credit: ADA WOOD / ADA.WOOD@AJC.COM

Buckhead residents wary of uptick in violent crime

Holiday shoppers can expect to see more police officers in and around Lenox Square after a man was injured Friday afternoon during a shooting at the Apple store.

Atlanta police said Saturday that the department will increase patrols at the popular Buckhead mall following the incident, which was the latest in a string of violent crimes in the area that has many Buckhead residents on edge.

“While businesses are largely responsible for providing security for their properties, the police department does have a role there,” Atlanta police spokeswoman Officer TaSheena Brown said in a statement. “With regard to Lenox Square, they employ off-duty officers along with private security and we have additional officers patrol the area during the course of their normal duties. We will be increasing patrols and ensuring all officers are on heightened alert. We will also meet with business owners there to help ensure they are prepared to provide adequate security for their properties.”

Friday’s shooting stemmed from a fight between several men inside the store, investigators said. Officers responded to Lenox Square about 3 p.m. and found a man who had been shot in the backside. The Apple store had just opened hours earlier after relocating from another space within the mall.

ExploreMan shot inside new Apple store at Lenox Square after fight

The shooting victim, who has not been identified, was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital and is expected to be OK.

Officers detained one man at the scene but later released him after questioning, Brown said. The suspected shooter fled the mall and drove away in what appeared to be a blue Chrysler Pacifica minivan with Georgia tag CML8659, according to police.

Shots fired during the latest shooting shattered a window at a MARTA bus stop across the shopping plaza’s parking lot.

Bullets from a shooting that erupted inside the new Apple store in Lenox Mall shattered the windows of a MARTA bus stop across the street Friday afternoon. Credit: ADA WOOD / ADA.WOOD@AJC.COM
Bullets from a shooting that erupted inside the new Apple store in Lenox Mall shattered the windows of a MARTA bus stop across the street Friday afternoon. Credit: ADA WOOD / ADA.WOOD@AJC.COM

Credit: ADA WOOD / ADA.WOOD@AJC.COM

Credit: ADA WOOD / ADA.WOOD@AJC.COM

As of Saturday afternoon, no arrests had been made in the case.

In an emailed statement, a spokesman for Lenox Square said the shooting was captured on surveillance video and that investigators are working with police to identify those involved.

At the time, mall officials said there were 14 off-duty police officers, two K-9 units and eight security guards patrolling Lenox Square.

The mall has been the site of at least six shootings in the past year, one of which was fatal. And last week, Atlanta police released surveillance video of a man accused of trying to rape a woman between the mall and the nearby MARTA station.

The Buckhead Coalition, a local civic association, called the recent uptick in crime around the mall “disturbing” and said it has a detrimental impact on both residents and businesses in the area.

“Despite the significant investment of resources by Lenox Square and other businesses and community groups, as well as strong support from the outstanding officers at the Atlanta Police Department’s Zone 2, this disturbing, months-long increase in serious crime continues to negatively impact our community,” the group said in a statement.

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The coalition has partnered with Atlanta police, Simon Properties and several neighborhood organizations to develop a plan aimed at deterring crime and improving public safety.

Atlanta City Council President Felicia Moore said she hopes the police department and the mall can work together to ramp up security and reduce some of the violence heading into the holiday season.

“It’s a concerning time. Gun violence is certainly on the rise,” Moore said. “My hope would be that the police chief and the owners of the mall can get together and make sure they have a coordinated effort to address some of these issues.”

Amid the rise in gun violence, Atlanta police have investigated 129 homicides across the city this year, up from 99 in all of 2019. That makes 2020 the deadliest year in Atlanta since 2007 with more than a month to go.

The string of violent crimes at Lenox began last December when a Macy’s employee was shot in the stomach after refusing to hand over her keys during an attempted carjacking in the mall’s parking deck. Two people were later arrested in the case.

Less than a month later, an Atlanta police sergeant patrolling the mall shot a man twice while intervening in what he believed was an armed robbery, investigators said. And on Feb. 10, a man was injured after a “pre-arranged meeting” in the mall’s food court spilled into the parking lot and erupted in gunfire.

The fatal shooting occurred in March, when a Tennessee man was shot in the head during an argument over a parking space, police said. One of the suspects in that shooting, Ricky James Lafargue, was captured earlier this month in New York.

In October, three people were charged when a man being robbed at the cash register inside Neiman Marcus pulled a gun and fired shots inside the crowded mall. Police arrested two of the four robbery suspects, but the victim who fired the shots was also charged when officers realized he was a felon with outstanding warrants for his arrest.

“At Lenox Square, nothing is more important than the safety of our employees, shoppers and retailers,” the mall said in its statement. “These incidents are unacceptable and part of a broader challenge Buckhead is facing. We are working closely with the Atlanta Police Department, city officials, the Buckhead Community Improvement District and the Buckhead Coalition to address these issues as part of an overall Buckhead security plan.”

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