ATLANTA (AP) — Police officers ducked behind cars as gunshots whizzed through a busy part of downtown Atlanta, killing a South Carolina man who engaged officers in the gunfight, authorities said.
The shootout Monday night was near the Aloft Atlanta Downtown hotel — a few blocks from many of the city's larger, high-rise convention hotels and offices that help fuel the city's billion-dollar hospitality and tourism industry. Police said drugs, thousands of dollars and two guns were found in a vehicle the man fled. Police also said a gun was found with the man's body.
"Gunshots were coming from every angle," witness Bryceton O'Neal told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "Cops were running behind cars, taking cover."
Atlanta officers were patrolling downtown when they spotted a car driving the wrong direction on one-way street, according to a statement from Atlanta Police spokeswoman Elizabeth Espy. As officers made a U-turn to stop the car, it was involved in an accident.
"We see this car blow right through the intersection and it smacked this (hotel shuttle) bus," witness JohnPaul Wegener told The Journal-Constitution. "There were police cars everywhere."
Two men inside the car jumped out and ran; the driver was arrested a block away while the passenger ran several blocks to the hotel's rear parking lot, Espy's statement said.
"The fleeing male began shooting at officers, which caused officers on scene to return fire striking the suspect multiple times which resulted in his death," Espy's statement said. In an earlier statement, police said three officers fired their weapons.
"We started to hear gunshots — pow, pow, pow— it was pretty scary," Wegener added.
The gunman's body was found behind a trash bin and identified by the medical examiner as Darius Smith, 18, of Greer, South Carolina.
Officers found about two pounds of marijuana, about 60 grams of cocaine, Ecstasy pills, about 6 grams of MDMA and $6,000 in cash in the car, police said.
Police identified the driver as Isaiah Irby, an 18-year-old also from Greer, South Carolina. He was being held at the Fulton County Jail, facing charges of possession of a firearm during commission of a felony, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and trafficking cocaine. No attorney was listed for Irby in court records.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which investigates some officer-involved shootings when agencies make a request, is not investigating this case, GBI spokesman Scott Dutton told The Associated Press. Dutton said no request had been made.