Person shot and killed in Atlanta bus hijacking leads to police chase

Atlanta police said a person was shot and killed Tuesday afternoon on a commuter bus that led officers on a chase for miles from the city to nearby suburbs, television news footage showed. showing the bus speeds into rush hour traffic and hits several vehicles.

News helicopters followed the dramatic pursuit of the Gwinnett County Transit bus, which police say took off after officers responded to a report of shots fired on a bus and a possible shooting. hostages just after 4:30 p.m. near downtown Atlanta.

A Gwinnett County commuter bus sits on the road where it was stopped in Smoke Rise, Georgia on June 11, 2024.

Ben Gray / AP

“Our first call was of an armed man on the bus holding hostages, and it’s possible there was a discharged weapon,” Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum said during a press conference Tuesday evening.

A police officer arrived about a minute after the initial 911 call and “confronted the attacker, who then forced the bus driver to leave,” sparking the pursuit, Schierbaum said.

Atlanta police said the bus was eventually stopped miles away in neighboring DeKalb County. The suspect, identified by Schierbaum as Joseph Grier, 39, was taken into custody. Grier, a convicted felon with 19 prior arrests, was armed with a handgun, Schierbaum said.

One of the people on the bus died from a gunshot wound, Schierbaum revealed. No other passengers or drivers were injured.

Schierbaum said there were a total of 17 people on the bus during the chase, including the driver. One of the 911 calls dispatchers received from the bus remained open throughout the chase, Schierbaum said, helping authorities put an end to it.

“It was this information that our call takers and dispatchers were hearing that was relayed initially to the Atlanta Police Department, then to the Georgia State Patrol, and then to our partners in Gwinnett…to help end our hostage situation,” Schierbaum said. said.

John Gilbert, of suburban Dacula, said his wife, Paulette, took the bus to and from downtown Atlanta for her job three days a week. He said she called him from the bus and told him a man had shot another man. Gilbert told his wife to hang up because he didn’t want the man to think she was calling the police and shooting him.

Then he waited 40 or 45 minutes without knowing what was happening before his wife finally called him once they got off the bus.

“I felt like I had a hole in me,” Gilbert said through tears. “I’m just glad she’s okay.”

Television footage showed the bus hitting several vehicles and crossing onto the wrong side of a road, pursued by police. At one point, a police vehicle appears to pull in front of the bus, but it continues to drive.

The chase ended when the bus left the road, DeKalb County Police Chief Mirtha Ramos told reporters. Authorities then used a BearCat to “immobilize” the bus, she added.