EAST POINT, Ga. — A program from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms that tests recovered guns to see if they were used in previous crimes has identified two suspects in the shooting of a 57-year-old East Point shooting.
Channel 2 Investigative Reporter Mark Winne first reported on the program last month on Channel 2 Action News.
The program inputs shell casings fired from guns recovered by the Georgia State Patrol into a nationwide database to see if they match shell casings recovered from crime scenes.
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ATF agents told Winne the program broke open a case that might not have been solved otherwise.
Without eyewitnesses, investigators say all they had to go on in an August drive-by shooting that left a 57-year-old woman injured was shell casings found at the home.
East Point police say the woman was visiting a home on Calhoun Avenue when it was targeted on August 18.
“She’s 100% an innocent victim,” East Point detective Sgt. Rick Michaud said. “There was a total of 37 shell casings that were recovered.”
Michaud says the next day, August 19, Georgia State Patrol troopers stopped a stolen car and arrested the two men inside. When they were searching the car, investigators found a ghost gun, without a serial number, making it impossible to track.
The ATF was able to safely fire the gun and input shell casings into NIBIN, the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network. The shell casings matched the ones found on the shooting scene, making the two men arrested prime suspects.
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The victim has since recovered from her injuries. Michaud told Winne she was “ecstatic” when she learned there was a break in the case.
“She hasn’t really left the house much because she’s just afraid of recurring incidents and what not. It’s just on her mind a lot,” he said.
Georgia law does not require police departments to upload shell casings to NIBIN, but ATF Special Agent Brian Moore is thankful East Point police did.
Moore says they have gotten 11 matches from their test fires so far, including a homicide.
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While the lead from the ATF has already been vetted, it is not confirmed until a firearms examiner compares the casing from the scene to a casing from the test fire
Michaud says evidence from the scene showed at least three guns were used in the drive-by.
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