A former employee of a Home Depot in suburban Atlanta chased his ex-girlfriend into the store this morning, killing her and another woman and shooting a third person before killing himself, police said.
Brandon Bolton, 22, of nearby Rex, and 20-year-old Lisa Atkins of McDonough, had both worked at the Home Depot about 15 miles south of downtown Atlanta.
Friends of Atkins said Bolton was obsessed with her and angry about their break-up, but police said they were not sure why Bolton shot her and two current store employees.
"We don't know what led up to this," said Maj. Doug Jewett, a spokesman for Clayton County Police.
No customers were involved, he said, although some may have witnessed the shooting. The store, which had opened as usual at 6 a.m., was closed for the day afterward.
Atkins drove to the store just before 8 a.m., leaving her red Ford Mustang blocking the lane in front of the store entrance, and ran inside, Jewett said. Bolton pulled alongside and ran after her with a .40 caliber semi-automatic weapon.
An employee called 911 from inside the store, he said.
"The dispatcher heard some gunshots in the background and lost contact with the caller," he said.
Atkins was shot several times, including once in the head, and was dead at the scene.
Tiffany Busch, 27, of Ellenwood was shot in the head and died in surgery at Southern Regional Medical Center. A Southern Regional spokesman said 31-year-old Maurice Jenkins of Stockbridge was in good condition there this afternoon with gunshot wounds to the back and arm.
"I think they were just close by," Jewett said of Busch and Jenkins. "(Atkins) was in there trying to get help, and they were standing nearby."
Bolton then left the store but encountered a Morrow police officer who was checking the tags on the car, Jewett said. The two fired at each other, but neither was hit and Bolton ran back inside.
Seconds later Bolton, who had run down an aisle with no way out, fatally shot himself in the head, Jewett said.
The call from inside the store was the third emergency call that city and county dispatchers got about the incident. The second was made from a PetSmart next door, and the first came from Bolton's mother.
"Morrow police received a call from the perpetrator's mother, stating that he had just left her home, taking her car without permission, and that he said he was coming to this location ... to kill his girlfriend," Jewett said.
Rachel Morris, who attended Eagles Landing High School in McDonough with Bolton and Atkins, said the two were a couple for about two years but that none of Atkins' friends liked him.
"He was just crazy, a very weird guy," Morris said. Bolton was obsessed with Atkins, she said, and was angry because she had broken up with him.
Deborah Dollar said her daughter, who works at the store but was not there today, was "best friends" with Atkins.
"She called for my daughter about 7:15 this morning and said it was an emergency, that Brandon was acting crazy," Dollar said.
"My daughter told her she would call her back when she woke up."
"Thank God she took a personal day today," Dollar said. "Because otherwise she'd be the one shot in the head."
Home Depot spokesman Don Harrison said the store may open tomorrow but that no one would be forced to work. Grief counseling was made available today and would continue for anyone who wanted it, he said.
"I don't know how you prevent something like this from happening when you've got 30,000 people going through one of our stores every week," he said. "How do you prevent anyone from coming into a store, a Home Depot or anywhere else, and shooting anyone they want?"