Office turns into scene of chaos and death

Man attempts to help victims amid confusion of latest U.S. massacre

July 30, 1999|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

John Cabrer did not think. He just ran toward the noise. He saw a man running right at him. The man's face was purple and red and twisted with panic. "Call the police!" the man was screaming, over and over.

In the chaos after a mass shooting in an Atlanta office building, Cabrer kept going. Security guards were running everywhere. He crossed a walkway and found himself at the emergency exit of All-Tech Investment Group. He looked inside a large room. He saw a man with a bullet wound in his cheek. Silently, the man was feeling his body to see where he had been hit.

A few feet away, a man was on his back, eyes wide open, not moving. Cabrer went to him. There was blood. Cabrer leaned forward and began CPR.

"I'd never done it before," said Cabrer, 30, an analyst for the Georgia State Tollway Authority. "When I pressed on his chest, I could feel his ribs cracking. When I blew into his lungs, it was coming right back out. He was gone."

Cabrer stood up and looked around. He saw another man on the floor. Dead. Shot in the chest. Covered in blood. And then another man. Also dead.

Now people were rushing into the room. But the room was quiet, or it seemed that way to Cabrer. The senses, he said, go a little strange when you find yourself wandering into the scene of the latest U.S. massacre.

He noticed something on the floor. It looked like a 9 mm bullet, a hollow point. He recognized it because he has a 9 mm handgun. Nearby, he saw what looked like the shell casing from a .45-caliber bullet.

Two guns, he thought.

Cabrer looked for someone to help. The room was perhaps 40 feet long. It had two long conference tables in the middle, lots of chairs and computers. He started clearing chairs out of the way. It seemed a useful thing to do.

In the front of the room, a young woman was slipping into shock. She had been shot in the hip, Cabrer said. People were covering her with clothes to keep her warm. To her left was a man with bullet wounds in his chest.

Cabrer noticed an ambulance, and then paramedics. "They really weren't prepared for what they saw," he said.

The man with the chest wounds seemed to be alive when they took him away. Cabrer wondered if the man would live. He heard a police officer questioning someone. One snippet of the interview stuck in his mind.

The witness said the gunman walked into the office and said, "I hope this doesn't ruin your trading day." And then he walked into the manager's office, closed the door and started shooting, the witness was telling the police officer.

Cabrer looked into the manager's office. "There was blood all over the wall," he said.

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