Suicide of Atlanta shooting suspect ends 'unspeakable day'
9 dead in shooting spree; 3 family members of suspect also slain
July 29, 1999
ATLANTA (CNN) -- The suspect in Thursday's shooting rampage at two Atlanta office buildings shot and killed himself Thursday night after being pulled over by police.
The body of Mark O. Barton, 44, was found at a gas station in suburban Cobb County, northwest of the city, in a dark green Ford Aerostar van. He shot himself in the head as police surrounded the van, about six hours after the shooting spree began, officials confirmed.
Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell said Barton's suicide brought an end to "a long, difficult, unspeakable day" in which nine people were shot to death and 12 others wounded or otherwise injured. Three of Barton's family members -- his wife and two children from a previous marriage -- were found at a suburban apartment, dead from what police describe as "blunt force trauma."
"It's a very difficult and painful night for Atlanta and for this country," Campbell said in an interview on CNN's "Larry King Live."
Police had been conducting a massive search for Barton, who allegedly opened fire Thursday afternoon inside two Atlanta stock day trading brokerages. The offices are located in the heart of the upscale Buckhead business district in the northern part of the city.
A short time later, the three bodies were found in an apartment in Stockbridge, a suburb southeast of Atlanta. Police believe those slayings took place before the shooting spree.
The coroner in Henry County, where Stockbridge is located, identified the victims as a 27-year-old woman, a 12-year-old boy and a 7-year-old girl.
Suspect left notes behind
Stockbridge Police Chief Jimmy Mercer said the three victims died from "blunt force trauma." A computer-generated letter from Barton was found in the living room, he said.
"He just reveals as to who it is and why it is he did what he did," Mercer said. "There's not anything that references what transpired in Buckhead. However, there may be reason to believe that perhaps this mayhem was not stopped at this particular apartment."
Initial indications are that the woman, who was found in a closet, was killed Tuesday and the children, found dead in their beds with toys and notes beside them, were killed Wednesday, Mercer said.
In all, there were four notes found -- one computer-generated and three handwritten.
CNN has also learned that Barton's first wife and mother-in- law -- Debra Spivey Barton, 36, and Eloise Spivey, 59 -- were hacked to death in a trailer near Cedar Bluff, Alabama, in 1993.
Cherokee County Sheriff Roy Wynn said no charges were ever filed in the case, but Barton was the lone suspect.
Armed with 2 guns
Thursday's shootings began about 2:50 p.m. Campbell said four people were shot at All-Tech Investment Group, a day trading firm located on Piedmont Road, and the five others were slain across the street on the top floor of Building 8, at Momentum Securities.
The mayor said a 9 mm handgun and a .45-caliber handgun were used in the shootings. Two similar handguns were found in the van where Barton killed himself.
Campbell said Barton is a former chemist who went into day trading stock and was concerned about financial losses. The mayor said witnesses reported that Barton came into one of the trading offices where he once worked, had a brief conversation with the people inside noting that the stock market was down and then began shooting.
Campbell quickly added, however, that he had "no idea what the provocation was or what caused Mr. Barton to begin shooting."
The rampage was the worst mass shooting in Atlanta's history. It came just two weeks after seven members of an extended family died in a murder-suicide in the city.
"We ask all of the people of Atlanta to pray for the families of those who have been killed and wounded," Campbell said. "Pray for Atlanta. Pray for our country."
Of the 12 people who were injured during the office shootings, seven were shot. The other five were injured trying to escape, Campbell said.
Seven victims -- six men and one woman -- were taken to Grady Memorial Hospital. Late Thursday night, six remained hospitalized, three still in critical condition. One had been treated and released.
Two other victims were taken to St. Joseph's Hospital and three to Northside Hospital, where one person was treated and released.
Head of brokerage describes shooting
Harvey Houtkin, chairman and chief executive officer of All- Tech Investment Group, speaking to CNN from the company's New Jersey headquarters, said the gunman, whom he described as a former customer, entered the Atlanta branch office and shot the office manager and secretary at point-blank range.
The gunman then began firing on anyone inside the office before moving outside, Houtkin said.
"He was shooting anyone just sitting there," said Houtkin, who has been in touch with the branch office. "My emotions are so crazy right now I don't know what to say ... For something like this to happen is just crazy."
Houtkin said he doubts the shootings had "anything to do with a down day in the market."
Workers at several office buildings in the area were evacuated in buses, while others were advised to stay put and take precautions.
As the afternoon progressed, more workers could be seen coming out of the building in groups. Police were searching the trunks of cars leaving the area.
Correspondents Martin Savidge, Bill Hemmer, Mike Boettcher, Daryn Kagan and Brian Cabell contributed to this report.
Map of Piedmont, Roswell location
All-Tech Investment Group Online
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