ATLANTA - A man who threatened a mass shooting at a southwest Atlanta mall is in custody after the threat sparked a massive police response, Atlanta police say.
Officers and squad vehicles filled the parking lot at Greenbriar Mall Friday morning when they learned that a man who was making threats on a crisis hotline was in the area.
Channel 2's Rikki Klaus was there as SWAT teams, bomb squad vehicles, helicopters and ambulances swarmed the parking lot.
Three schools were placed on lockdown as police investigated.
Police said the man called a crisis hotline and threatened a mass shooting and to exchange gunfire with police. The hotline called Atlanta Police.
Atlanta police Sgt. John Chafee said at a news conference Friday afternoon that multiple agencies responded to the scene after police were able to see the man walking around outside the mall on surveillance footage.
They watched him put a backpack down and investigated it as a 'suspicious device' but later determined it was not dangerous.
Chafee said it was important to treat the threat seriously.
“Any time that we have a threat of a mass shooting, it’s something that’s certainly concerning to us," Chafee.
Chafee said they caught the man in the woods near the mall without incident after bringing a negotiator. No one was hurt.
Klaus spoke to a woman at a nail salon in the mall, who described the scary moments police arrived on scene.
“They all came in there, running," Nya Weems said. "It was like, 'Everybody stay where you are. Don’t leave the inside. We’re locking the doors. Wait until somebody comes in and tells you that you guys can come out.'”
Chafee said the man surrendered after negotiators were able to coax him out of the woods. He said they are charging him with a crime, but they are also looking to get the man help.
“We are placing charges on him, and we’re also trying to put him in touch with some professionals that may be able to assist him what whatever’s going on that led to this," Chafee said.
LIVE UPDATES AS THE INCIDENT UNFOLDED BELOW:
APD officer in news conference said investigators saw, on surveillance video, suspect ditch a backpack by dumpster. They said they haven’t been able to find a weapon on scene. pic.twitter.com/aWjj4BzATj— Rikki Klaus (@RikkiKlausWSB) September 7, 2018
Incident at Greenbriar Mall is over. Police have cleared the parking lot by Burlington, where there were several patrol cars, a bomb squad vehicle minutes ago. pic.twitter.com/qfuTWYkvMd— Rikki Klaus (@RikkiKlausWSB) September 7, 2018
VIDEO: You can see 3 bomb squad vehicles were here moments ago outside the Greenbriar Mall, for a phoned-in threats investigation. pic.twitter.com/2OJ0YvSqfd— Rikki Klaus (@RikkiKlausWSB) September 7, 2018
BREAKING: An APD spokeswoman just walked up. She said things have come to a close here at the Greenbriar Mall scene. We’re waiting to interview an officer. pic.twitter.com/YpT9CFZcqo— Rikki Klaus (@RikkiKlausWSB) September 7, 2018
A bomb squad and ambulance are now on the scene:
Bomb squad on scene. A lot of moving parts. The helicopter just landed in the parking lot again. An ambulance is now on scene. Police cars coming and going. pic.twitter.com/ULavFT0QZM— Rikki Klaus (@RikkiKlausWSB) September 7, 2018
An ambulance just arrived to the scene. pic.twitter.com/GnNjaXEr3W— Rikki Klaus (@RikkiKlausWSB) September 7, 2018
Ralph J. Bunche Middle School is also on a soft lockdown, school officials said. It will not impact the rest of the school day.
BREAKING: This helicopter just landed in the Greenbriar Mall parking lot. Phoned-in threats investigation underway. Now it’s taking off again. pic.twitter.com/2OFY6Wnnhu— Rikki Klaus (@RikkiKlausWSB) September 7, 2018
Channel 2's Rikki Klaus says she sees at least one officer with his gun drawn.
BREAKING: Atlanta Police officer has gun drawn, is wearing helmet and squatting behind patrol car at Greenbriar Mall. Police say mall received several threats, including talk of a possible shooting today. pic.twitter.com/sW7vPgaGn9— Rikki Klaus (@RikkiKlausWSB) September 7, 2018
NewsChopper 2 was on the scene moments ago with images of a very active scene:
Atlanta Public Schools says two schools are on lockdown, Daniel McLaughlin Therrell High School and Continental Colony Elementary School.
BREAKING: Atlanta Public Schools says 2 schools are on lockdown, as part of the response to the mall threats (and as a PRECAUTION). They are:— Rikki Klaus (@RikkiKlausWSB) September 7, 2018
1. Daniel McLaughlin Therrell High School on Panther Trail
2. Continental Colony Elementary on Hogan Rd pic.twitter.com/0wf1gSVsmv
Atlanta Police are asking everyone to avoid the area.
APD ALERT: Atlanta Police Department is working an active incident at Greenbriar Mall at this time. We ask for citizens to please avoid the area until further notice.— Atlanta Police Dept (@Atlanta_Police) September 7, 2018
Greenbriar Mall security just kicked us off the property, where APD is conducting an investigation involving a device. They say there have been several phoned-in threats. pic.twitter.com/obqAhAYy7B— Rikki Klaus (@RikkiKlausWSB) September 7, 2018
Klaus saw police stringing crime scene tape around 1 p.m.
Police just tied crime scene tape around their scene. pic.twitter.com/t67DlWjYys— Rikki Klaus (@RikkiKlausWSB) September 7, 2018
Atlanta Police says the man continues to call a crisis hotline and make threats.
We just got to the Greenbriar Mall parking lot. This APD officer asked us to move back a bit because they have a “device” on scene. A man has been calling making threats, investigators say. pic.twitter.com/tXA8iJRmXd— Rikki Klaus (@RikkiKlausWSB) September 7, 2018
We’re on our way to Greenbriar Mall, where Atlanta Police say there was a phoned-in threat about a shooting. They say a man continues to call a crisis hotline, making threats. pic.twitter.com/y1mPBW1smj— Rikki Klaus (@RikkiKlausWSB) September 7, 2018
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