Investigators search for answers after 12 die in Georgia killings
Suspected gunman committed suicide
July 30, 1999
ATLANTA (CNN) -- Police worked through the night, gathering evidence early Friday in Atlanta's financial district, where a day trader apparently upset over stock market losses shot 21 people, killing nine of them, authorities said.
Federal and state officials were also investigating the deaths in suburban Stockbridge of the suspect's wife and two children -- his 11-year-old son from a previous marriage and his 7-year-old stepdaughter.
The gunman took his own life late Thursday when cornered by police about five hours after the shootings, police said.
Police and Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell said Mark O. Barton, 44, was upset about stock market losses. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 180.78 points, or 1.65 percent on Thursday.
Police said they spotted Barton's dark green Ford Aerostar van at a BP gas station in nearby Cobb County, and pulled the driver over, blocking the vehicle. As they approached, Barton turned his gun on himself, committing suicide, police said.
Several victims in critical condition
Early Friday, victims of the shootings were being treated at nearby hospitals. At least seven were reported in critical condition.
President Clinton, arriving in Sarajevo for a summit on the Balkans, said he had watched the unfolding Atlanta drama for an hour before departing for Europe. He offered sympathy to the wounded, and to families of victims.
Witnesses described the suspect's death.
"There were several officers drawn on him. They were opening his door. It appeared that he had just shot himself," witness Robert McHutchins said.
"I could see the suspect. He was leaning back in his chair with his head propped backward. He still had his glasses on. I was unable to see any wound."
Cobb County Police Cmdr. Darrell Cook said authorities in that area spotted the van at the Town Center shopping mall and followed it.
"At the tail end, I do believe he knew he was getting followed," Cook said.
Family found dead in Stockbridge
Campbell said the suicide marked the end of "a very long, difficult unspeakable day."
While the conclusion "allows the people of Atlanta to at least put this unhappy day to a rest, we still have the very difficult task of finding out why," Campbell said.
The killing spree apparently started as early as Tuesday in Stockbridge, a suburb southeast of the city in Henry County where Barton's second wife, his stepdaughter and son from a previous marriage were found dead in an apartment, victims of what Police Chief Jimmy Mercer called "blunt force trauma."
The triple homicide was reported at 3:23 p.m. after the Atlanta shootings.
Mercer said the body of the 27-year-old woman was found in a closet and the two children, Barton's son by first wife, and Barton's stepdaughter, were found dead in their beds with notes on their bodies and toys alongside of them.
Another note was found with the wife and a computer-generated letter several pages long was found in the living room, he said.
Suspect had been Scoutmaster
In the notes, "he just reveals as to how it is and why it is he did what he did," the police chief said. "There's not anything that references what transpired in Buckhead. However, there may be reason to believe that perhaps this mayhem was not stopped at this particular apartment."
The victims were found by an apartment maintenance man during a routine inspection. Mercer said he believes "the mother" was killed Tuesday and the two children Wednesday. Their bodies were removed Thursday night and the victims were identified as Barton's wife and children.
The suspect, who had served as a Scoutmaster with his son's troop, had been living with his family at the apartment for the past several weeks, CNN Correspondent Mike Boettcher reported from the scene.
Mercer said authorities had the murder weapon but he wouldn't describe it.
Worst mass shooting in Atlanta history
The Atlanta office rampage, which paralyzed the fashionable Buckhead office and shopping center area north of downtown, was the worst mass shooting in the city's history, just two weeks after seven were killed in a murder-suicide at a home.
"There's an awful lot of blood everywhere," the mayor said.
The killings in suburban Henry County occurred at least 24 hours earlier, said Sheriff's Department Lt. Roger Stubbs. He said authorities there were looking for three other people who may have been at risk. He did not elaborate and the suspect's death was announced a short time later.
Campbell said Barton, a 6-foot-4 220-pounder with a receding hairline, was apparently a daytrader who walked into the brokerage house, "noticed that the market was down, pulled his gun and began shooting."
But he quickly added, he had "no idea what the provocation was or what caused Mr. Barton to begin shooting."
Gruesome Alabama deaths
Barton's first wife and mother-in-law -- Debra Spivey Barton, 36, and Eloise Spivey, 59 -- were hacked to death in a trailer near Cedar Bluff, Alabama, on Labor Day weekend in 1993, the sheriff's department in Cherokee County, Alabama, said Thursday night.
No charges were ever filed in the case, but Barton was the lone suspect, Sheriff Roy Wynn told CNN.
Georgia authorities said that in the notes found with the second wife and children, Matthew and Mychelle, Barton denied he was the killer in the Alabama case.
A .45-caliber and 9 millimeter handgun were found in Barton's van, the same kind of guns he allegedly used in the Atlanta shootings, Campbell said.
Nell Jones was sitting outside the offices of the Atlanta brokerage where Thursday's shooting started and was treated for shock after the gunman allegedly fired at her.
Office workers locked in buildings
"When he came out he looked like someone very calm and determined," she told reporters at St. Joseph's Hospital. "He looked at me and pointed the gun at me and fired. The bullet missed me," Jones said.
Of the nine people killed in Atlanta, Campbell said four were shot inside the brokerage house, part of All-Tech Investment Group, and the five others in Building 8 across the street, housing a company called Momentum Securities, on the third floor, where the shooting in that building was concentrated.
Hundreds of office workers were locked in their buildings in the initial hours after the outbreak of violence, which began at about 2:50 p.m. By dusk, some were still in their offices.
Harvey Houtkin, chairman and CEO of All-Tech, speaking from the company's Montvale, New Jersey, headquarters, said the gunman was a former daytrader with his firm who last traded there in April.
He said the man entered the Atlanta branch office and shot the office manager and secretary at point-blank range.
"He was shooting anyone just sitting there," said Houtkin, who has been in touch with the branch office. "My emotions are so crazy right now I don't know what to say ... For something like this to happen is just crazy."
Witnesses describe carnage
Seven wounded, six men and one woman, were taken to Grady Hospital downtown -- including four in critical condition who were rushed into emergency surgery, said Dr. Leon Haley. The other three were listed in serious condition.
A St. Joseph's Hospital spokesman said three victims were taken there, a 27-year-old man in critical condition with abdominal wounds, a 38-year-old woman shot and critically wounded in the head and chest and a third female, no age given, who was being treated for shock.
A spokeswoman for Northside Hospital said her hospital had three victims brought there, two in critical condition -- a man with multiple gunshot wounds and a woman who was shot in the back -- and a man who was treated for flesh wounds and released.
In Buckhead, courier company executive Ray Ferguson said he got a call from one of his employees who told him she'd heard gunshots when she was on the main level, ran up the stairs to the third floor of the building and locked herself in a law firm there.
"She was just scared to death," said Ferguson, vice president of a company called Anything Goes.
Ferguson, whose company is located on the eighth floor of the building, said he'd seen "four or five" gurneys carrying out wounded. One of them, he said, "looked real bad. His shirt was off, his torso and face were completely covered with blood."
Greg Tanner, sales manger for a company called NetVendor Systems, said he saw the carnage in the brokerage office after he went there from his building to check on the commotion there.
He said when he arrived he saw the bodies of two men lying "immobile" on the floor, a third man propped up against a wall with a wound to the chest, a woman lying on her back unable to move but with her eyes open and another woman in the hallway with blood oozing from her head and an ear.
Correspondents Mike Boettcher, Daryn Kagan, Bill Hemmer and Martin Savidge contributed to this report.
Victims in the Atlanta shootings
All-Tech Investment Group Online
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