Cameras, LPRs help officers track, locate and arrest Atlanta gunman
'Technology played a huge role,' said Cobb police Chief Stuart VanHoozer. 'Those tools are really what got us the clues that we needed'
By Shaddi Abusaid, Alexis Stevens
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
ATLANTA — Authorities say technology played a vital role in Wednesday’s eight-hour search for a man accused of opening fire inside a Midtown medical office, killing one woman and wounding four others.
Police used a combination of security cameras and license plate readers to track the movements of Deion Patterson after he allegedly “commandeered” a pickup truck and left the city, officials said at a news conference late Wednesday.
He was eventually apprehended near Cobb County’s Truist Park at about 8 p.m., bringing an end to the massive manhunt that involved nearly a dozen law enforcement agencies.
“Technology played a huge role,” Cobb police Chief Stuart VanHoozer said. “If you rewind the hands of time four years, we probably would not be where we are right now. ... Those tools are really what got us the clues that we needed.”
He told reporters the stolen truck was eventually spotted by a license plate reader in the Cumberland area, which led to officers swarming several locations near The Battery.
As the search intensified, 911 operators fielded emergency calls from numerous people who believed they had seen Patterson.
“It was a fairly chaotic scene,” VanHoozer told reporters. “We were being called to various locations in that area about what appeared to be legitimate sightings of this individual.”
Tracking the suspect’s movements and having a general idea of where Patterson was greatly aided in that process, the chief said.
“The operators in our Real-Time Crime Center were fielding many of these calls and looking at them and trying to determine which ones seemed legitimate and which ones did not,” he said.
The Georgia Department of Transportation also shared access to its traffic camera feeds, which authorities said proved extremely helpful.
“That is where we got the precise location of the building that he walked into,” VanHoozer said.
In Atlanta, the city’s Connect Atlanta program allows businesses and citizens with cameras to register them so they can be utilized in the event of an emergency. Cobb has a similar program. If a crime occurs, those in the area with registered cameras may be contacted to provide footage.
Atlanta police Chief Darin Schierbaum has called the program the “neighborhood watch of the 21st Century,” and the surveillance camera network has been crucial in solving other recent cases.
In November, cameras captured a shooting on the 17th Street bridge that left a 12-year-old and a 15-year-old dead. Cameras captured the shooting and led investigators to believe as many as three people fired shots.
After the shooting, a group of teenagers boarded a MARTA train at the Arts Center station. Train cameras showed the teens celebrating and showing guns to other passengers as they rode through the city, police previously said. Investigators were later able to identify six suspects, including five juveniles.
Last summer, Schierbaum and Mayor Andre Dickens praised the cameras and asked for more businesses and residents in the city to join in the video network.
In addition to helping solve crimes, the camera integration system also helped officers locate a woman with Alzheimer’s last year when she wandered away from home and boarded a MARTA bus, officials said.
”Our technology is being used to solve crimes and assist the most vulnerable citizens that we have in Atlanta,” Schierbaum said.
In August, it took about two hours to identify and arrest a woman accused of killing two men and injuring another in Midtown with the use of the camera network and tips from bystanders, according to police. They used the camera network to track Raissa Kengne’s taxi as it made its way to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, where she was arrested.
During Wednesday’s search for the Midtown shooting suspect, multiple tips from the public also helped lead investigators to Patterson.