9 dead in Atlanta rampage

Gunman kills himself after manhunt

wife, 2 children found dead

Disgruntled day trader

12 others injured in shootings at 2 brokerage firms

July 30, 1999|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

ATLANTA -- A securities day trader killed nine people yesterday afternoon in two office buildings in the city's upscale Buckhead district, eluded an extensive police manhunt for five hours, then killed himself in his van after the police pulled him over in nearby Cobb County.

Twelve other people were injured in the incidents, seven of them from gunshot wounds.

The man, Mark O. Barton, 44, also is suspected in the killings of his wife and two children from an earlier marriage, whose bodies were found yesterday in an apartment in suburban Stockbridge, about 15 miles southeast of Atlanta.

A 9 mm pistol and a .45-caliber handgun were found near Barton's body and a computer-generated letter and three notes were found near the bodies of his wife and children, authorities said.

The Stockbridge killings took place before the Buckhead shootings, but it was unclear exactly when, said Mayor Bill Campbell of Atlanta.

Seven of those injured in the Buckhead shootings were in critical condition at Atlanta hospitals late yesterday.

Barton, a chemist who took on the high-risk life of an independent stock trader, also was a suspect in the bludgeoning deaths of his first wife and her mother in Cedar Bluff, Ala., in 1993, authorities said. He was never charged in those killings.

No motive was known for yesterday's killings, the deadliest shooting rampage in the city's history, but investigators speculated that recent trading losses contributed to Barton's rage, although they also said he had not expressed any such motive in the notes he left behind.

"What happened today is a tragedy of massive proportions," Campbell said yesterday afternoon, his face locked in a sweat-dampened grimace. "We are praying for the families and praying for our city."

Yesterday's incident was the third shooting rampage in the Atlanta area in less than three months. On May 20, a 15-year-old student at Heritage High School in nearby Conyers shot six other students, none of them fatally. On July 12, an Atlanta man killed six members of a family and himself in an apparent domestic dispute.

The shootings in the Buckhead business and entertainment district yesterday began about 2: 50 p.m., when Barton walked into Momentum Securities and, without warning or provocation, began to fire with two weapons, Campbell said.

Four people were killed in that building.

James Lee, a co-owner of the firm, would not say whether Barton did business there.

Barton then crossed bustling Piedmont Road and walked into another brokerage firm, All-Tech Investment Group. He opened fire there as well, killing five people.

Barton had traded at the office in the past but not recently, the company said in a statement released from its headquarters in Montvale, N.J.

Barton "came into our office and after speaking to the branch manager, suddenly stood up and for no apparent reason opened fire on the branch manager and his secretary,"said the statement from All-Tech. "This man then went into our main trading room and began indiscriminately shooting at our customers. The man then ran out of our office and continued shooting in another part of the office building."

Workers in the office buildings described blood-splattered walls, lifeless bodies and nervous police officers shortly after the shootings. Many were locked in their offices for hours as heavily armed officers swept through the buildings, their weapons drawn as they looked for Barton.

Dari A. Payrow, 23, a worker at Allegiance Telecom, which has offices on the third floor of the building that houses All-Tech, said he was returning to his office from a bathroom when he saw a trickle of blood in the hall. He glanced through the glass windows of the building's leasing office, which is next to his own, and saw puddles of blood on the floor next to the receptionist's desk.

"There was a guy on the floor and nobody was helping him so I assume he was dead," he said.

Periodically, police escorted office workers out of the building and led them down Piedmont Road. Many jogged to safety, then bided their time in a nearby Mexican restaurant, calming their nerves with margaritas and bottled beer while using cellular telephones to notify family members and friends of their safety.

For confused hours after the shootings, police seemed to have few clues to Barton's whereabouts or his method of escape. Aided by SWAT teams, dogs and helicopters, they conducted a suite-by-suite search of the office buildings and the leafy grounds surrounding them to no avail.

After officials broadcast a description of Barton's van, Cobb County police officers saw him driving north on Interstate 75, said Lt. Lee Schwein of the Acworth police.

As Barton exited at Acworth, Schwein said, Acworth police cruisers converged on him. He then pulled into a BP service station and officers blocked his escape.

He pulled to the back of the station, put two guns to his head and fired, Schwein said.

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