Fatal Bus Hijacking and Chaotic Chase Shocks Atlanta

Atlanta police had just finished briefing the community about a chaotic shooting inside a downtown food court Tuesday afternoon when calls began about a separate catastrophe—a fatal bus hijacking—unfolding just a half mile away. According to CNN

A gunman hijacked a commuter bus with 17 people inside, causing passengers to frantically text loved ones and call 911 for help. As police arrived on the scene, the gunman, 39-year-old felon Joseph Grier, held the bus driver at gunpoint and forced him to speed away, initiating a rush-hour chase that zig-zagged across highways and suburban streets, crashing into other cars and crossing into opposing traffic.

A passenger discreetly stayed on the line with 911, allowing authorities to hear the chaos. Mayor Andre Dickens described the scene as something out of a movie, with the suspect holding a gun to the bus driver’s head and threatening worse if the bus stopped. told by AOL

The chase ended on a tree-lined street in Stone Mountain. Passengers streamed out, and Grier was arrested without incident. However, a passenger found shot aboard the bus later died in the hospital. The victim’s identity will be released after family notification.

Grier has 19 prior felony convictions, though further details were not provided. The hijacked Gwinnett County Transit bus is part of a commuter network that brings people in and out of Atlanta from its suburbs, including passenger Paulette Gilbert. Her husband, Johnny Gilbert, recounted how she called him, stunned and frightened, describing the gunman’s erratic behavior and a confrontation that led to a shooting. as reported by NBC

Around 4:30 p.m., police received the first 911 call from a passenger reporting the hijacking on Ivan Allen Boulevard. The line then went silent. Another call from a passenger’s family confirmed the hijacking and a third call stayed connected throughout the chase, providing critical information to law enforcement.

The bus led police on a wild chase along Interstate 85 and through suburban areas before stopping in Stone Mountain. The large bus struck several vehicles during the pursuit, but it is unclear if any drivers were hurt. Police used several tactics to disable the bus, including positioning an armored vehicle to prevent it from maneuvering.

A joint investigation into the hijacking will be conducted by the Atlanta Police Department and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.