Police Search for Gunman After Shooting Near Clark Atlanta University

Police in Atlanta are on the hunt for a suspect after four female college students were injured when a gunman fired into a crowd of people near Clark Atlanta University.

In a statement from Clark Atlanta University’s interim president, Lucille H. Maugé, CAU’s Department of Public Safety responded to gunfire near the Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library during an “unsanctioned block party” at 10:32 pm on August 20. Two of the victims were students at Clark Atlanta University and the other two were from Spelman College.

“We are prepared to support and uplift the CAU community. We are asking our faculty to be aware and prepared to support those students experiencing the effects of this incident,” Maugé wrote.

Atlanta police said the shooting began after a fight broke out between two groups at the block party outside of the campus library, WSB-TV reported. The shooter was able to escape the crowd and has not been identified.

"It appears there were two separate groups that were targeting each other, and these people were just caught in the crossfire," Atlanta Police Captain William Ricker stated to KTLA.

The injured female students suffered non-life-threatening injuries and are in stable condition, authorities told WSB-TV. The victims have been identified as Erin Ennis, 18; Maia Williams-McLaren, 18; Elyse Spencer, 18.; and Kia Thomas, 19, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

A video obtained by WXIA-TV shows students panicking and running in all different directions immediately after the incident. Another video released by police shows the suspect, who is a Black man wearing a white t-shirt, gray sweatpants, gray New Balance sneakers, and a tan Gucci hat.

Darryl B. Holloman, vice president for student affairs at Spelman College, said in a statement that counselors are available on campus for students affected by the shooting.

“We are asking our faculty to be aware and prepared to support those students experiencing the effects of this tragedy who may not be in class, as well as others who will attend class, but will need guidance and an opportunity to discuss any concerns,” the statement read.

Anyone with information about the shooting is urged to call Crime Stoppers Atlanta at 404-577-8477, text information to 274637, or visit the Crime Stoppers website. Those who provide tips can remain anonymous. Investigators also said there is a $2,000 reward for any information leading to the arrest of the suspect.

The shooting comes just a few weeks after the US experienced two back-to-back mass shootings that left at least 31 people dead and 53 people injured. The first shooting occurred on August 3, when a gunman entered a Walmart in El Paso, Texas. The gunman, who has been identified as 21-year-old Patrick Crusius, killed 22 people and injured two dozen others. El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen called the scene at the shooting “horrific.”

“When I first got to this job, I never knew there was an odor to blood, but there is. … It will leave an impression that you’ll never forget,” Allen said, according to WTVR.

Crusius, a white supremacist, was arrested following the shooting after he approached police unarmed once they arrived at the Walmart. In a manifesto obtained by authorities, Crusius said he wanted to stop a “Hispanic Invasion of Texas,” CNN previously reported. The 2,300-word document written by Crusius was titled “The Inconvenient Truth” and published on 8chan, an online messaging board. In the document, the gunman wrote hate-filled language targeted at Latinos, according to the news station.

The 21-year-old was charged with capital murder and is being held without bond, but US Attorney for the Western District of Texas John Bash previously told reporters that they were investigating Crusius “with a view towards bringing federal hate crime charges … and federal firearms charges which carry a penalty of death,” according to NBC News.

In less than 24 hours, police in Dayton, Ohio responded to another shooting on August 4. The suspected shooter was identified as Connor Betts, 24, who killed nine people and injured 27 others during the shooting. Betts — who also killed his 22-year-old sister, Megan Betts, during the attack — was shot and killed by police shortly after the shooting began. It is unclear what his motive was.

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in the various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.