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On The Scene

Tuchman: Police fear suspect has nothing to lose

CNN's Gary Tuchman
On the Scene
Gary Tuchman
Atlanta (Georgia)
Martin Luther

ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- A Fulton County Superior Court judge was killed when a defendant grabbed a gun from a deputy sheriff and opened fire in an Atlanta courtroom Friday, officials said. A court reporter and deputy also were killed, and another deputy was injured.

A search for the suspect is under way, and authorities said he is considered armed and dangerous. CNN's Gary Tuchman gave a preliminary report on what law enforcement officials told him earlier Friday at the Fulton County Courthouse in downtown Atlanta.

TUCHMAN: It's a very chaotic scene because you have a man who's shot four people, killed three of them, inside a courthouse. Nobody knows where he is. And police know he has nothing to lose, that he still has his gun, that he's carjacked at least two vehicles, and frankly, they don't have the foggiest idea of where the man is.

So all these hours later, the search continues. But not only do they not know where he is, but they're not sure what vehicle he's in. So it's a very difficult situation.

What we're being told is he shot the deputy, then held the courtroom hostage. If there was another person, another deputy in the courtroom with a gun, he didn't use it. And then minutes later, [the suspect] shot and killed a judge who was presiding over the case -- Judge Rowland Barnes.

Judge Barnes is very well-known here in Fulton County, Georgia. He's presided over some high-profile cases, including the case -- you hockey fans may be familiar with this -- of Dany Heatley, the Atlanta Thrashers hockey player who was in a car, got into an accident, killed a fellow player [and] pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide.

The gunman shot the judge, then shot a clerk inside the courtroom. That judge and the clerk are both dead. He then came downstairs, eight floors through a stairwell on this street -- Martin Luther King [Drive] in downtown Atlanta -- and shot another deputy. Now one of the other deputies -- either the one in the courtroom or the one on the ground -- is also dead. The other one is in the hospital.

He then tried to carjack at least two vehicles, ultimately went into a parking lot. If you've been to Atlanta, this parking lot is right next door to the state Capitol, right next door to the World of Coca-Cola, which is a major tourist draw in Atlanta.

He then tried to take a car and pistol-whip the driver of the car, who happened to be a reporter for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper. He told that reporter to get into the trunk. The reporter very smartly and very bravely refused, and then we are told, it appears that this gunman drove away in the car. But it's still not clear if he's in that vehicle.

On the highways here in Atlanta, Interstates 85 and 75, two major thoroughfares that run through the city, the electronic signs above are warning people to be on the lookout, but it doesn't say what kind of car or license plate because they're not exactly sure.

The people here in the Atlanta metropolitan area are very nervous right now because there's a gunman with very little to lose who's on the loose, who shot four people and who's killed three.

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