ATLANTA - One person died and three others were injured in a shooting aboard a MARTA train Thursday afternoon. MARTA police said they were trying to determine what led to that deadly gunfire. And they plan to increase patrol across the transit system Friday in light of the incident.
The ordeal happened just before 4:30 p.m. Thursday as a Blue Line train was traveling from the Hamilton E. Holmes station to the West Lake station. Police said the man they believe pulled the trigger had just boarded the train. He was taken into custody as he left the West Lake station. Investigators said they recovered what they believe to be the gun used in the shooting.
Police said Zachariah Hunnicutt, who was in his 30s, was killed at the scene.
"He was shot numerous times. He was shot like he wasn't a human being-- like he didn't have a life," said a tearful Sharonda Hunter, the sister of Hunnicutt's girlfriend. She said she was on board the train with her sister, Janisha Cofield, who was shot in the leg.
Officials at Grady Memorial Hospital said they received three shooting victims and one person who was injured in the panic. All were listed in stable condition with what police described as non-life threatening injuries.
Investigators said they were not sure what motivated the gunman to open fire. His identity was not immediately released.
Hunter told FOX 5 Hunnicutt knew the accused gunman from their workplace, but knew nothing about him.
“He had a hat on and he bobbed his head, and he got up and walked back to the back of the train and after that, heard shots, hit the deck and just saw some shoes walk past and that's it,” one witness told FOX 5’s Jaclyn Schultz.
"All I hear is 'pop!' Then like, a couple more second more later it was like 'Pop, pop, pop!' I look back, I see a guy's back going like this," witness Cedric Peterson described the gunman firing to FOX 5's Jaclyn Shultz.
“It's like five people lay down. More people still trying to crawl over us, still trying to climb over the back of us. I was like 'Dude, you got to let somebody up, can't nobody get through,'" said Peterson. "But I can understand why they were doing what they were doing because they couldn't clearly see."
The West Lake MARTA station was immediately evacuated, according to police.
The West Lake station was temporarily closed following the shooting. MARTA used a “bus bridge” between H.E. Holmes and Ashby to accommodate riders.
MARTA GM/CEO Keith Parker released the following statement late Thursday regarding the shooting:
“My thoughts and prayers remain with the victim and everyone impacted in today’s incident.
“MARTA remains committed to the safety and well-being of our customers. We want to reassure all of our riders that the security of our passengers remains our number one priority. I commend the work of our officers and other first responders for their ability to quickly mobilize and isolate this situation.
“Our collective goal as an agency is to ensure that all our riders not only feel safe but know that we are doing everything to ensure their wellbeing as they travel to and from their destinations. For MARTA, that commitment starts tomorrow morning with more officers, in more places throughout our system.
“I would also remind people that public safety is incumbent upon all of us doing our part to remain aware and vigilant every day.”
MARTA Police Chief Wanda Dunham pledged in a statement sent to FOX 5 News more officers will be deployed across the entire transit system and reiterated that safety of passengers is their number one priority.