1 dead after shooting on hijacked Gwinnett County bus, wild police chase up I-85

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — One person is dead after police said a gunman hijacked a bus from downtown Atlanta with 17 people on board while holding a gun to the bus driver’s head.

The incident started at 45 Ivan Allen Jr. Boulevard around 4:30 p.m. Atlanta police said they responded to initial reports of a gunman on the bus that was holding hostages and that there had possibly been a discharge of a weapon. The call then immediately dropped.

Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum said that 911 then got a second call from a family member of a person on the bus who had been texting with them saying the bus had been hijacked and that people onboard were being held hostage.

A short time later, 911 received a third call from the bus and that line remained open for the entire time.

“It was that information that our call takers and dispatchers were hearing that was fed initially to the Atlanta Police Department, and then to the Georgia State Patrol, and then our partners at Gwinnett and DeKalb County to craft and end to this hostage situation,” Schierbaum said.

The bus traveled up I-85 into Gwinnett County, then got off on Jimmy Carter Boulevard and eventually along Hugh Howell Road.

Triple Team Traffic saw the bus ram numerous cars as it wove through traffic.

At one point, all lanes of the interstate were shut down as officers employed several different tactics to try to stop the bus.

When the bus turned off at Jimmy Carter Boulevard, officers threw spike strips, appearing to disable the tires.

Numerous officers surrounded the bus after it turned onto Hugh Howell Road.

A SWAT vehicle appeared to be directly in front of it. Georgia State Patrol, DeKalb County Police, the DeKalb County Marshall’s Office and Atlanta police all responded to the incident.

DeKalb County Police said once the bus stopped, passengers started getting off. Atlanta police said there were 17 people on board the bus, including the bus driver.

Officers found an adult victim dead from an apparent gunshot wound on the bus. Police have not released the identity of that person.

Chief Schierbaum identified the gunman as Joseph Grier, 39, of Stone Mountain. He said Greer had been arrested 19 times previously and was a convicted felon.

A Channel 2 Action News photographer spoke to Dennis Durham, who said he was coming out of Gusto on Hugh Howell in Tucker when a car in front of him went in reverse and slammed into him.

“Here comes the bus right in front of us and just knocked through a lot of these cars and made them hit each other,” Durham said. “I saw so many police cars in so many different areas my head was swimming.”

Another man said his wife was a passenger on the bus and she said the suspect appeared to be suffering from mental illness.

Numerous vehicles along the bus’s path had to be towed after getting slammed into.

Sheirbaum thanked everyone involved for bringing the incident to a close as quickly and peacefully as they did.

“You saw the collective effort and dedication of law enforcement working together today to save lives, to rescue hostages, to make sure this ended,” Schierbaum said.

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