Mayor Reed, APS address safey, security in wake of Price Middle shooting

11:51 PM, Feb 3, 2013   |    comments
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Video: Mayor Reed, APS address safey, security in lieu of Price Middle shooting

Atlanta police officers watch as school buses line up outside Price Middle School on Jan. 31, 2013.

ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Police Department gave a news conference on Friday, with updated information related to Thursday afternoon's shooting at Price Middle School.

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At the start of the conference, Chief George Turner stated that at 1:56 p.m. on Thursday, January 31, 2013 Atlanta Police officers responded to a call of shots fired at Price Middle School on 1670 Benjamin Weldon Bickers Drive in southeast Atlanta.

Chief Turner continued his statement by saying, "When officers arrived, they discovered a 14-year-old victim, a student at the school, with a gunshot wound to the back of the neck. He was alert, conscious and breathing and was transported to Grady Hospital.

"A 15-year-old suspect, also a student at the school, had been taken into custody by an off-duty Atlanta Police Officer, Inv. Solomon Bibbs, who was working as a School Resource Officer for the Atlanta Public Schools system.

"While on school grounds, Inv. Bibbs heard gunshots and responded to the scene. He immediately ordered the shooter to drop his weapon, a .380-caliber handgun with a six-round capacity magazine.

"The shooter complied and was taken into custody without incident.

"Investigators would later recover three spent shell casings, although the total number of shots fired is still under investigation.

"Preliminary investigation has determined that gunfire erupted after words were exchanged outside of the school between two groups of students who are possible affiliated with local gangs. The shooter in one group was targeting the other group of students.

"It is not clear at this time if the victim was the specific intended target of the shooting. APD's Gang Unit has been engaged as part of the investigation. At this time, it is not clear where the shooter obtained the gun, or how it got onto the school campus. Investigators are working to trace the gun, and determine how it was obtained.

"In the aftermath of the shooting, it appears a school employee may have been knocked over or fallen and suffered minor injuries. She was transported to Atlanta Medical Center for treatment.

"The shooter, a juvenile, was charged with aggravated assault, possession of a firearm during commission of a felony and possession of a firearm on school property.

"It is up to the District Attorney's Office to determine if the juvenile will face charges as an adult. APD is not confirming the names of any of the involved parties, due to their status as juveniles.

"After the shooting, the school was put on lockdown. APD's SWAT team cleared the school to ensure there were no further, immediate threats. The scene was cleared at approximately 5:45 p.m.," Turner said.

Mayor Reed spoke after Chief Turner, starting with the issue he felt was the most important.

"Today," Reed said, "I visited with the young man who was shot, and with his mother, and they seemed to be in relatively good spirits. He is awake and conscious, and moving around. He is an athlete and he told me that he is excited about looking forward to the Super Bowl this weekend."

Reed said the most important thing is the safety of his people.

He then thanked those who helped out and remained in constant communication, including Chief Turner, Erroll Davis and the APS Staff.

Reed said he and Turner, in the wake of the shooting in Sandy Hook, Conn., had discussed refreshing and reviewing the plans for being in touch with area schools.

According to Reed, Thursday's incident is an important reminder that the government and police need to concentrate on the safety in schools. He said he would team up with the Superintendent to make sure adequate police personnel at schools.

Reed wrote to the Atlanta Public School system prior to Thursday, wishing to link up with the schools within the city of Atlanta with a Video Integration Center, which would allow for more eyes to be on schools in the event that there is an emergency.

Reed said that if anything happens on campuses, it is important that as police approach the school property, they need to see what is going on in and around the kids. Reed said this is doable and affordable.

Reed thanked Andrea Boone and the grievance counselor with the City of Atlanta, who spoke to the victim's mother last night and was at Grady within fifteen minutes of the incident. Grievance counselors were also made available to others after the shooting.

Food is being provided to the victim and family to help comfort them through this time.

Next, Superintendent Davis took questions regarding metal detectors at the school.

"As with all devices," Davis said, "Particularly electronic and mechanical, sometimes the work and sometimes they do not, so certainly there may be periods of time when they're not working. They were checked out today."

Davis said he was not sure if the metal detectors were working on Thursday at the time of the incident, and that he did not have maintenance logs on him.

Detectives Sands addressed security, saying there are trained administrative staff members on hand to monitor the metal detectors.  

"We are actively reviewing our security strategy as the Mayor alluded to, and we are working very closely with Chief Turner's staff so that we can make sure we have a coordinated effort and response," Sands said.

Mayor Reed's advice to young people after Thursday's incident stressed the realness of gun violence and its consequences. He said the incident reminds us that nothing is as important as the safety of our kids.  

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