Witness says people started ‘dropping to the ground’ as gunfire erupted inside Atlanta movie theater

ATLANTA — Atlanta police released surveillance images that show the man police say opened fire inside a crowded theater where fans waited to watch the new Spider-Man movie.

The images show the suspected shooter and a woman as they walked into the AMC Phipps Plaza movie theater Monday night.

A woman inside the theater told Channel 2′s Michael Seiden she actually shared an elevator with the shooting victims as they rushed to get away from the shooter.

The shooting injured one person and sent several others running for their lives.

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“We heard a pop and someone like shouted out ‘shooter’ and everybody just started like dropping to the ground,” witness Sharnay Gardner said.

Police said the shooter had just arrived at the 10 p.m. showing of “Spider-Man: No Way Home” when he found another man sitting in his assigned seat.

“Some type of argument ensued over the seat and again instead of getting a movie attendant to help resolve it, the shooter decided to use a handgun he had on his persons,” Atlanta police deputy chief Charles Hampton said.

Police say the victim suffered a gunshot wound.

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“The first thing in my mind is like, ‘Oh my god, this is it,’” Gardner said.

She told Seiden that she still can’t believe what happened.

“Your heart is just racing so quickly,” Gardner said.

Gardner told Seiden that she and her husband Andrew were sitting a couple rows in front of the shooter when the gunfire erupted.

“(It was) mass panic. I think everybody around us … just screaming and then everyone’s like, ‘Get on the ground,’” Gardner said.

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She said they ran for the exits and eventually ended up on the same elevator as the victim.

“He was just bleeding out everywhere and there was another guy on the elevator who started calling 911,” Gardner said. “It seemed like it was kind of on, I want to say, like his left lower like abdomen.”

Seiden tried to contact AMC for comment on this story, but they referred him to police.

As far as the victim, police identified him as a 24-year-old male but haven’t released his name or condition.

Phipps Plaza sent us a statement, saying:

“The incident last night inside the AMC Theatre occurred at approximately 10:45pm, after the mall was closed and involved an argument between two AMC patrons over a theater seat.

“We are thoroughly investigating the incident with the leadership of AMC theaters. AMC has immediately agreed to add private armed security in their theater to complement the comprehensive security measures that are in place in the mall.

“At Phipps Plaza, we are working with security experts across the globe to establish the most comprehensive, zero-tolerant, high-security program for the safety of our guests. We take any incident very seriously. We are increasing the breadth and depth of monitoring by off duty Atlanta Police Department officers and private security. Additionally, the property also employs around-the-clock surveillance technology both inside the property and in the parking areas.”

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