Motive unclear in Atlanta massacre
Gunman commits suicide after 12 killings
July 30, 1999
ATLANTA (CNN) -- As Atlanta-area authorities tried to find a motive for a massacre, two buildings housing brokerage firms reopened Friday, the morning after day trader Mark Barton, possibly upset by financial and marital difficulties, shot 21 people, killing nine of them.
Hospitals were caring Friday for 10 of the wounded, seven of whom were in critical condition. Other wounded people were treated and released.
Barton, 44, who is also believed to have killed his second wife and two children in the days leading up to Thursday's rampage, later committed suicide in his van when cornered by police at a gas station in suburban Acworth, Georgia, taking the death toll to 13.
A .45-caliber and 9 millimeter handgun were found in Barton's van, the same kind of guns he allegedly used in the Atlanta shootings, authorities said.
Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell, who had said the chemist-turned-day trader was upset about his stock market losses, told CNN Friday it may be impossible to learn the full story behind the carnage. "Quite honestly, I don't know if we'll ever know what the true motives of Mr. Barton were," Campbell said.
Linda Lerner, an attorney for All-Tech Investment Group, a day-trading firm Barton once used, said there was nothing unusual about his trading activities and that he was "going through a difficult divorce."
"He was a customer until a couple of months ago and then he went to another firm to trade," she said in Montvale, New Jersey, where All-Tech is headquartered. "We're going through his account now to determine what his trading gains and losses were."
"Day trading does take place in a high pressure environment, but I understand from the firm where he had been trading until two days ago that there was nothing remarkable about his trading," she said.
"I don't know that you can necessarily tie his trading to these killings," she said.
Family killed first
Police in Stockbridge, Georgia, south of Atlanta, said they had evidence that Barton's 27-year-old wife, Leigh Ann, died Tuesday and the children, 12-year-old Matthew, a son from his first marriage, and 7-year-old stepdaughter Elizabeth Mychelle, were killed Wednesday.
A handwritten note was left on each body, and a computer-generated note left in the living room explained "why he did what he did," Henry County Police Chief Jimmy Mercer said.
Mercer said authorities would not know what killed the three until they received the medical examiner's report. "If the contents of the note were to be believed, it appears the individuals died of blunt force trauma," he said.
With the notes was a list indicating Barton had intended to kill at least three more people.
Barton was also a suspect in the murders six years ago of his first wife, Debra Spivey Barton, 36, and her mother, Eloise Spivey, 59.
The women were beaten to death with a sharp instrument at a campground in Cherokee County, Alabama, about 100 miles from Atlanta.
Barton, who is believed to have taken out a $600,000 insurance policy on his first wife before she was killed, was never charged in that crime.
No charges were ever filed in the case, but Barton was the lone suspect, authorities said.
Georgia authorities said that, in the notes found with his second wife and children, Barton denied he was the killer in the Alabama case.
Barton, dark-haired and 6-foot-4, was wearing khaki shorts when he walked into the Momentum Securities brokerage at the Two Securities Centre building in the trendy Buckhead section of Atlanta about 3 p.m. Thursday. Four people were dead within minutes.
"I saw a lot of blood in the hallway," said Chris Carter, 32, who works on the building's third floor. "There was a trail of blood leading from one end of the hallway to the other."
Barton then walked across a busy road and into the All-Tech branch in the Piedmont Center building. Five died there.
Barton, who was carrying a pistol in each hand, at one point in the rampage, managed to escape from the Buckhead area and elude a police search for five hours until his suicide in a neighboring county to the north.
Correspondents Brian Cabell, Mike Boettcher and Holly Firfer contributed to this report.
All-Tech Investment Group Online
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