Blood bath followed suspect's mounting stock losses
July 31, 1999
ATLANTA (CNN) -- The man who allegedly shot to death nine people at two Atlanta brokerage houses lost about $105,000 in his last month of day trading. On the same day that he suffered his last trading losses, Mark Barton apparently bludgeoned his wife to death.
A source familiar with Barton's trading activities said Barton lost money that day. Asked if it was a considerable sum, the source said, "To you and me maybe... but it wasn't an unusual day in regard to his profits or losses."
Barton, 44, first opened an account with Momentum Securities Inc.'s branch office in Atlanta on May 13, with an initial transaction of $100,000. He indicated his net worth was $750,000 at the time, records show, including $250,000 in available cash.
Barton's annual income earned as a chemist was listed as $85,000.
On Tuesday, Barton killed his wife, Leigh Ann, 27, investigators said. On Wednesday, he killed his two children -- 11-year-old Matthew and 7-year-old Mychelle.
Then, on Thursday, Barton carried out Atlanta's worst mass murder when he opened fire at two brokerage firms, Momentum Securities and All-Tech Investment Group. He left a note suggesting a deeper anguish than financial loss, but also vowing to "kill ... people that greedily sought my destruction."
A letter from Momentum Securities President James Lee to Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Arthur Levitt states: "From our very preliminary review of our records, it appears that he traded at our Atlanta office on a total of 15 days in the period June 9, 1999, through July 27, 1999. His trading resulted in an approximate $105,000 loss."
Authorities on Friday released the contents of the one-page note in which Barton also expresses love for his family and remorse for the three killings. Barton says in the note that he killed his wife because she "was one of the main reasons for my demise." The two were reportedly going through a bitter divorce.
Authorities released the 911 tapes of people reporting the shooting to police.
"There is a man bleeding in my office," Melinda Batch told the emergency operator at 2:56 p.m. EDT. She also described the shooter as a white man wearing a pink shirt.
Atlanta Police responded within four minutes of the initial 911 call and had six units at the scene by the time a second 911 call was placed at 3:07 p.m.
While police investigated the carnage in the first building, Barton walked calmly past a guard and killed five more people in another building.
Then, as nearly every police officer in Atlanta was looking for him, Barton walked to his minivan and drove out of town.
'You should kill me if you can'
The note Henry County police found in Barton's home was written on his stationery and dated 6:38 a.m. Thursday. The note also urges police to kill him if they can.
Except possibly for the vague reference to greedy people, the note makes no direct reference to Thursday's shootings, a rampage that ended hours later when Barton took his own life, increasing the death toll to 13.
In addition to the nine deaths at the two Atlanta office buildings, another 13 people were wounded, police said. Eleven of them, including four people in critical condition, were still under hospital care on Friday.
'I hit them with a hammer'
"There was little pain," Barton wrote, describing how he bludgeoned Leigh Ann, his second wife, and his two children from his first marriage.
"All of them were dead in less than five minutes. I hit them with a hammer in their sleep and then put them face down in the bathtub to make sure they did not wake up in pain," Barton wrote.
"I killed the children to exchange them for five minutes of pain for a lifetime of pain. I forced myself to do it to keep them from suffering so much later," he wrote. " No mother, no father, no relatives."
Barton's note, read aloud to reporters by Henry County Police Chief Jimmy Mercer, was found in the living room of his family's apartment in suburban Stockbridge, south of Atlanta.
While leaving questions about his motive unanswered, Barton's words reveal how tortured he felt at the time of the killings. "Words cannot tell the agony," the note says.
'I have come to hate this life'
"I have been dying since October," Barton wrote. He said he was "so terrified that I couldn't be that afraid while awake. It has taken its toll. I have come to hate this life in this system of things. I have come to have no hope."
He expressed his love for his wife and children as well, in shorter, handwritten messages found near their bodies that appear to ask God to take care of them.
"I don't plan to live very much longer, just long enough to kill ... the people that greedily sought my destruction," he wrote.
Barton's note listed the names of three people, but Mercer said they were apparently named as next of kin, not as further targets for retribution.
One of the names is Bill Spivey, the father of Barton's first wife.
No charges were ever brought against Barton, and in the note found by Georgia authorities, he denied responsibility for the Alabama deaths.
The other names in the note were Gladys Barton, who is Mark Barton's widowed mother, and Joe Fowler, whose connection to Mark Barton was not immediately clear.
Shooter fired into barricaded office
Within minutes after the shooting spree, Batch gave 911 dispatchers the location of the building -- 3500 Piedmont Road, Suite 310 -- and said a victim stumbled into the office suite after being shot in his left upper arm. The dispatcher asked her to repeat the address two times.
"Quick! We've got an emergency!" another woman implored a 911 operator. "There's a lady that's down!"
When the woman screamed for an ambulance, the operator told her calmly, "Ma'am, we've got everybody en route."
Glenn Miller, who was in Momentum Securities when the shooting broke out, said he also called 911, but was put on hold the first time and had to call again.
It took at least 45 minutes for medical emergency crews to arrive at the office, he said.
Miller and a friend, Joe Skipper, had tipped over a desk and barricaded themselves in a back office when shots rang out.
The gunman tried to force the door open and then fired two shots through the door, one of which missed Skipper by 3 inches, Miller said.
After calling police, Miller and Skipper threw a computer terminal through the third-floor office window to create a potential escape route that police later used as a way to get into the building.
Skipper said about five minutes before the shooting he ran into Barton in the break room. "He had a smile on his face, looked me in the eyes and asked me how I was doing," Skipper said.
"I told him, 'Great.'"
Final moments before suspect's suicide
Barton killed himself in his van Thursday night in the northern suburb of Acworth as two police officers closed in on him about five hours after the Atlanta shootings.
Cobb County Police Officer Huel Clements had spotted Barton's van, following at a distance while identifying the suspect, before Barton turned into a BP gas station.
"He circled around slowly, through the parking lot, around the back, and when he came around adjacent to the car wash, he stopped," said Clements.
By that time, Cpl. Curtis Endicott of the Acworth Police Department arrived to provide assistance. He pulled closer to block the suspect's car, fearing Barton would make a run for it.
As he got out of his vehicle, Endicott said he saw Barton move, saw a flash and heard a muffled shot.
4 guns found in car
Police found four handguns and more than 200 rounds of ammunition in Barton's vehicle.
Senior law enforcement officials tell CNN that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) has now traced the weapons.
According to sources, in addition to the GLOCK 9 mm and Colt .45 handguns police previously described, authorities also found a .22-caliber H&R revolver and a .25-caliber Raven pistol.
Sources say Barton purchased the revolver from a South Carolina pawnshop in 1976. Another individual bought the Raven pistol from a pawnshop in Georgia in 1992.
The Colt and GLOCK are believed to be the guns Barton used at the office buildings.
"We believe that Mr. Barton actually shot himself with the .45," Atlanta Police Chief Beverly Harvard said.
Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell, who had earlier said the chemical salesman-turned-day trader was upset about his stock market losses, told CNN Friday it may be impossible to learn the full story behind the carnage. "Quite honestly, I don't know if we'll ever know what the true motives of Mr. Barton were," Campbell said.
Linda Lerner, an attorney for All-Tech Investment Group, said there was nothing unusual about his trading activities and that he was "going through a difficult divorce."
"He was a customer until a couple of months ago, and then he went to another firm to trade," she said in Montvale, New Jersey, where All-Tech is headquartered. "We're going through his account now to determine what his trading gains and losses were."
Lerner said, "I don't know that you can necessarily tie his trading to these killings."
Lee, the president of Momentum Securities -- where the shooting spree began -- said Friday "the last 24 hours have been hell" and he expressed his condolences to "those who are hurting."
"We're devastated by this. We don't know why it happened, we'll probably never know," he said at a news conference.
"We're grieving for our employees, our customers, their families and their loved ones," Lee said.
"Mark Barton met our financial requirements as a customer," said Lee. "The documents he signed indicated that he understood the potential risks and rewards of day trading. He was an experienced trader."
'An eerie feeling'
On Friday morning, workers returned to the two buildings, but the offices where the nine deaths occurred remained closed as police investigated the crime scene.
Someone left a bouquet of spring flowers -- red carnations, yellow chrysanthemums and white daisies -- outside each building with a card that said, "I'm so sorry. God bless you."
"Everyone is still shaken," said Millicent Pilate as she returned to work in the complex.
Going back to the building was an "eerie feeling," said Sheldon Casey.
Correspondents Pierre Thomas, Brian Cabell, Mike Boettcher, Martin Savidge and Holly Firfer contributed to this report.
Shooter lost $105,000 in month, but motive still a mystery
All-Tech Investment Group Online
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