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A 22-year-old man was arrested Wednesday after allegedly walking into a Publix store in one of Atlanta’s busiest shopping districts with a small armory: two long guns, three pistols, a revolver, a knife, body armor, and a bunch of ammo.
It was a close call after two mass shootings in the last week: one at three massage businesses in the Atlanta area that left eight people dead, and another, just days later, at a Colorado grocery store that killed 10.
Atlanta police responded shortly after 1:30 p.m. Wednesday to reports of an armed man openly carrying a rifle into the Publix at Atlantic Station in midtown Atlanta. Charles Russell, a man identified by WSB-TV as an Instacart shopper, heard clicking sounds in the Publix bathroom that sounded like someone loading guns, according to the incident report. He then saw the gun leaning against the wall.
“I saw an AR-15,” Russell told WSB-TV. “And I was like, you know, this kind of startled me just again with events that recently happened in the grocery store up in Colorado.”
Russell reported the man to store management, and cops intercepted him as he exited the bathroom and took him into custody without incident. The suspect was later identified as 22-year-old Rico Marley. (Atlanta police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)
Police searched the alleged gunman and found the AR-15-style rifle, a loaded 12-gauge shotgun, three semi-automatic pistols, and a .38 special revolver, according to an incident report. They also found a ski mask and a bag in the search.
Though the Atlanta Police Department initially said the suspect had five guns, a picture released by police shows six, including another handgun.
The alleged gunman was initially charged with reckless conduct, but Atlanta police said Thursday he would also be charged with five counts of attempted aggravated assault and six counts of possessing a firearm during commission of a felony. He was due in court for a preliminary hearing Wednesday morning, according to Fulton County records.
Before being taken to the Fulton County jail, the suspect’s mental health was evaluated by emergency medical technicians, according to police, though they haven’t released the results of that evaluation or given an explanation as to why he was so heavily armed.
The arrest came just two days after the shooting at a King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, Colorado, where a gunman opened fire with an AR-15-style gun that he’d bought less than a week earlier. Only 10 days before the suspect bought the gun, a Colorado judge struck down the city’s ban on assault weapons that would have made the weapon illegal.
The Atlanta area is also still reeling from the murders of eight people at three spas, six of whom were Asian women. The gunman allegedly bought his weapon on the day of the attack.