UPDATE: New details emerge on Gwinnett bus hijacking that left one dead

Joseph Grier (Courtesy Fulton County Sheriff’s Department)

Atlanta Police said one person is dead after a suspect hijacked a Gwinnett County Transit bus on Tuesday and led police on a chase on Interstate 85.

The suspect – identified as Joseph Grier, 39, of Stone Mountain – has a string of previous arrests and incarcerations including convictions for aggravated assault and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

WSB-TV reports that Grier was spotted outside Peachtree Center arguing with someone following the mass shooting that took place in the food court. Law enforcement has not tied Grier to that incident.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) added new insight into the incident in a media release on Wednesday.

The preliminary information indicates on Tuesday, June 11, 2024, at about 4:20 p.m., a Gwinnett County Transit bus picked up passengers in downtown Atlanta. Among the passengers that boarded the bus was Grier. Grier was engaging with passengers on the bus and got into an argument with a male passenger. Grier got into a fight with the male passenger, and the passenger pulled out a gun. Grier took the gun from the passenger and began threatening passengers with it. Grier then shot the passenger and ordered the bus driver to flee the scene while threatening passengers with the gun.

Numerous law enforcement agencies began pursuing the bus as it traveled north into Gwinnett County and then traveled east into DeKalb County. During the pursuit, the bus hit several police vehicles. The bus’s tires were flattened during the pursuit, but the bus continued to flee. A Georgia State Patrol Trooper then fired his patrol rifle into the engine compartment of the bus in order to cause the bus to malfunction and stop running.

The pursuit ended on Hugh Howell Road in Stone Mountain. At that time, Grier was taken into custody without further incident. The passenger shot by Grier was taken to a local hospital and pronounced dead. The bus driver was also taken to a local hospital for treatment. The name of the victim that died is being withheld pending notification of next of kin by Atlanta PD and the Fulton County M.E.’s Office.

At approximately 4:35 p.m., Atlanta Police officers responded to a report of gunfire on a bus and a possible hostage situation near 45 Ivan Allen Jr. Blvd. NE in Downtown Atlanta.

When officers arrived at the scene, the bus fled the location, and a pursuit ensued, according to a press release from the Atlanta Police Department.

The pursuit spanned Fulton, Gwinnett, and DeKalb counties. Agencies involved in the chase included Atlanta Police, Georgia State Patrol, and police from Gwinnett and DeKalb counties.

During the pursuit, police employed various tactics to stop the bus. The bus ultimately came to a stop at about 5:15 p.m. near 5107 Hugh Howell Road in Stone Mountain, according to APD.

“Upon clearing the bus, officers found an adult victim with a gunshot wound. The victim was transported to the hospital by ambulance in critical condition, where they succumbed to their injury,” APD said in the release.

There were several other passengers on the bus, but no further injuries were reported. The investigation remains active and ongoing.

Rough Draft Publisher Keith Pepper witnessed part of the pursuit as he was driving on the Downtown Connector.

“There was a single police car behind the bus when it got onto the Downtown Connector, and then by the time we got to Ga. 400, I could see probably four to six or seven police cars that were now sort of behind the bus and it was hard to tell if it was an escort or if they were chasing it,” Pepper said.

“It looked like the guy driving it was wearing a yellow vest, and there was some guy standing up in the front of the bus,” he said. “The lights at the top were flashing, saying, ‘Emergency call police,’ but I wasn’t sure what was going on because the police were behind it, and it was hard to tell if it was an escort or if they were chasing it.”

Check back for updates.

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