by Michael King, WXIA-TV
DECATUR, Ga. - Authorities have identified 20-year-old MichaelBrandon Hill as the suspect in the shooting at the Ronald McNairDiscovery Learning Academy Tuesday afternoon.
According to DeKalb County Police, Hill will be chargedwithAggravated Assault on a Police Officer, Terroristic Threats andPossession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon.
DeKalb School spokesperson Quinn Hudson says all students were accounted for, and that no one was injuried.
Superintendent Michael Thurmond says classes will be held Wednesdayfor McNair Academy students, at McNair High School. But he added,absences will not be counted.
Late Tuesday afternoon SWAT members went into the home of the suspect.
DeKalb County Police said they responded to a call of shots fired atthe Ronald McNair Discovery Learning Academy on 2nd Avenue inunincorporated DeKalb County.
In a news conference, DeKalb County Police Chief Cedric Alexandersaid the suspect was a19 years old white male, dressed in all black,and carrying an AK-47 assault rifle and other weapons. DeKalb Countypolice said the suspect lives near the school.
Alexander said the suspect was holding school staff members captive in the school's office.
Police Chief Alexander says the suspect stepped outside the schooland fired multiple shots at officers. Officers fired back and thesuspect dropped to the ground and surrendered.
A team from the US Marshal's Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force,along with officers from the DeKalb County Sheriff's Office, the DeKalbCounty Police Department, DeKalb County School Resource Officers and USMarshals from the Northern District of Georgia were all on scene.
After he was arrested, the suspect was turned over to the DeKalbCounty Police Department. According to SERFTF supervisory inspector JimJoyner, personnel from the task force joined in searching and securingthe school.
Chief Alexander said that once the suspect's car was located near thefront of the school, a K-9 unit "hit" on the car, noting the possiblepresence of explosives in the vehicle. A search of the car later foundno explosives.
Police officers took the students from the field in the rear of theschool away from the school building. They cut a hole in the fencesurrounding the field to keep the students away from the vehicle andinvestigation at the front of the school.
County officials said there was no indication of any motive.
Students were bussed to a Walmart store at the corner of Gresham andFlat Shoals roads, near Interstate 20,to be reunited with theirparents.
Thurmond was working with crews from the Walmart to hand out water to parents waiting for buses there.
Buses began to arrive at the Walmart shortly after 4 p.m.
DeKalb School spokesperson Quinn Hudson says when the suspect enteredthe school, he haddemands to speak to a local television station.Once reports of the suspect came in, the students were taken out of therear of the building into a field behind the school.
US Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga. 5th) came to the Walmart where families were being reunited, and later issued a statement.
"I am deeply disturbed by the shooting at McNair LearningAcademy. As a society, we must find a way to deal with the fact thatthere is too much violence on our city streets. Somehow and some way wemust convey the message to young and old that violence is not aneffective way to solve human problems. And when we come to thatunderstanding as a nation, this nightmare will end.
"Until that time, my thoughts and prayers are with those who have beenterrorized by this incident, even some children attending school for thefirst time this August. The law enforcement officers of Dekalb County,McNair Academy school personnel, Georgia Bureau of Investigation,Georgia state troopers and all officials involved deserve our thanks andhighest praise for securing a very dangerous situation so that no childor adult was physically injured. Their primary concern was for thesafety of the children, and they successfully protected them fromgreater harm."
On Tuesday afternoon, Superintendent Michael Thurmond released a statement saying:
"All children are safe as well as the employees and staff ofRonald McNair Discovery Learning Academy. I want to thank lawenforcement (FBI, GBI, DeKalb County Police, DeKalb County School SystemPolice, and the DeKalb Sheriff's Department) for their professional andtimely response to this crisis. Due to their efforts, a potentiallytragic outcome was avoided. I want to thank the parents who supportedthe District and waited at Wal-Mart through this collaborative effort aswe worked to ensure that the safety of our students was paramount.
The District has taken measures to allow for Ronald McNairDiscovery Learning Academy to maintain its core business of teaching andlearning, and all classes for the students will continue at McNair HighSchool on Wednesday, August 21, 2013. Student transportation willcontinue as normal to McNair High School located at 1804 BouldercrestRoad, SE Atlanta 30316; however, any student unable to attend schooltomorrow will receive an excused absence. A crisis intervention team andcounselors will be on site to assist students and staff as needed."
The school is an elementary school in the Candler-McAfee area ofunincorporatedDeKalb County and part of the public school system inDeKalb County.