DECATUR, Ga. (AP) — Two men accused of invading a home in metro Atlanta opened fire on two police officers with an AK-47 assault rifle Friday morning, causing a gunbattle that left four people injured and a lengthy manhunt by heavily armed authorities.
DeKalb County police officers Tony Luong and Devon Perry were sent to an apartment complex — described by officials and neighbors as prone to crime and gunfire — near the interstate around 6:45 a.m. to investigate a reported home invasion.
The officers had barely gotten out of their cars when two suspects left an apartment and opened fire, police said. Police later recovered a handgun and an AK-47, an automatic rifle. Witnesses in the apartment complex described hearing bursts of back-and-forth gunfire.
At least one and possibly both officers fired back, police said. A 39-year-old suspect was shot and critically wounded at the scene, while a 27-year-old suspect was also struck but managed to flee.
Luong was shot in his thigh and required surgery Friday. His wound was not considered life-threatening. Perry was shot in the calf and had already been released from medical care.
Detectives were still piecing together exactly what happened during the gunbattle.
“It’s only by the grace of God that it could have been worse,” said Cedric Alexander, the county’s deputy chief operating officer of public safety. “I cannot find words to describe what must have been going through those officers’ minds.”
Alexander said he would not name the suspects until their family members could be contacted. At a minimum, the men will be charged with home invasion, armed robbery and aggravated assault on a police officer, he said.
The 29-year-old suspect fled the apartment complex on foot and ran across Interstate 285 with police chasing him, authorities said.
Taxi driver Douglas Berry, 49, was driving south on the highway early Friday. A vehicle in front of him suddenly stopped, forcing Berry to drive around it. He then slammed on his brakes to avoid striking the fleeing man. He described it as a close call.
“He put his hands on my hood of my car … to catch his balance,” Berry said. “And then he just darted across the highway, jumped over the wall and went through the woods right there.”
It left Berry rattled.
“He could have had a gun and shot me,” the driver said. “They say he shot two policemen. If I’d hit him, he probably would have shot me. I was lucky not to be in no real mess.”
Police cordoned off neighborhoods, locked down nearby schools and used dogs, helicopters, heavily armed SWAT teams and a small fleet of police cars to search for the second suspect. He was found near a cemetery and was bitten by a police dog, Alexander said.
Investigators said they recovered the AK-47 and a handgun. It was not immediately clear which suspects fired which weapons.
Alexander said police are investigating what drew the suspects to the targeted home.
Jeremiah Bennett, 23, described three bursts of gunfire, about 18 shots in all. He said he was fed up with the violence.
“It’s normal,” he said. “I’m moving next month. This is the last of it.”
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