ALPHARETTA, Ga. — A man who barricaded himself inside a HomeGoods store in a busy shopping center in Alpharetta, prompting a major police presence, has been taken into custody, Channel 2 Action News has learned.
Alpharetta police said a disgruntled employee made threatening statements and brandished a weapon at the store on North Point Parkway around noon on Tuesday.
The employee has since been identified as 33-year-old Eric Gibson, from Avondale Estates.
Customers were quickly evacuated from the store as well as nearby business. Some employees barricaded themselves inside the store and didn’t leave until police arrived.
Police later found Gibson inside a HomeGoods store and contained him to one part of the store.
Negotiators spent hours trying to resolve the situation peacefully. A negotiator quickly developed a relationship with Gibson and he surrendered less than two hours later.
Employees and shoppers were all eventually evacuated safely.
“We’re always looking for a peaceful resolution, so that’s why officers are on scene working to create a dialogue,” police said.
Channel 2′s Tony Thomas was there around 1:30 p.m. when officers took Gibson into a waiting ambulance.
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Gibson has been charged with reckless conduct and simple assault. A handgun was recovered from the area where he was hiding.
Channel 2′s Michael Seiden spoke to a worker at HomeGoods, who told him they had no idea what was going on until a manger started yelling for everyone to get out.
“The manager came out of the office and told all of us to run,” an employee said. “The store was open, customers were in the store and so we ran.”
A customer, who did not want to be identified, said she was forced to shelter in place moments after she walked in the business.
“There’s SWAT cars everywhere, like ambulances,” she said. “It was pretty startling at first.”
She and dozens of other shoppers and employees watched from the parking lot as SWAT team members descended on the store.
Shopper Thomas Fen said he was worried it was an active shooter.
“It seems like it happens every day now,” Fen said.
The suspect has not been identified and it’s unclear what charges he faces.
HomeGoods the REI store next door and a Honey Baked Ham store remained closed Tuesday afternoon.
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