3 questioned after 4 students shot at Atlanta's Benjamin E. Mays High School

A police officer with Atlanta Public Schools was on the scene as shots, which injured four students, were fired in the parking lot of Benjamin E. Mays High School in southwest Atlanta on Wednesday.

That revelation came during a joint press conference late Wednesday evening with Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens, flanked by representatives from both the Atlanta Public Schools Police Department and the city of Atlanta Police Department.

Mays High School shooting started as a fight, police say

A fight broke out around 4 p.m., just after students were dismissed for the day. Officials say that led to gunshots being fired.

Four students, only identified as three 17-year-olds and one 18-year-old, all male, were rushed to an area hospital and are expected to survive. No other students, faculty, or staff were injured, according to the school district.

"There was an officer on scene while those shots were being fired, he broadcasted over the radio, requested additional support," said Atlanta Public Schools Police Chief Ronald Applin.

The campus was quickly flooded with officers from both APS and the APD, as well as firefighters and medics.

Off campus, officers began the hunt for a possible vehicle seen in the parking lot at the time of the shooting.

"The information they were able to provide early on, was critical in us being able to quickly get a vehicle stopped at Baker Road and Commercial Drive," said Atlanta Police Major Ralph Woolfolk.

In that car, stopped about five miles away from the school, was a 35-year-old mother, a 17-year-old girl, and another male. All three were taken to Atlanta Police headquarters for questioning. Major Woolforlk said all three were cooperating and speaking with investigators.

Back on campus, officers had the grueling task of questioning witnesses.

"We had to work through several students that were on-scene. We began with approximately 100 students that were here," said Major Woolfolk.

More than four hours later, about two dozen of those students remained in the school cafeteria awaiting police interviews. Officials say they brought in food for the students and hoped to get them to their parents soon.

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Four students were shot outside Benjamin E. Mays High School on Wednesday, Feb. 14, according to district officials (FOX 5 Atlanta).

Outside, in the campus parking lot, forensic investigators worked to collect evidence and document the scene well into the evening. SKYFOX 5 flew over the scene around 4:35 p.m. Wednesday afternoon and spotted several markers typically used to indicate spent bullet shell casings. 

Investigators also spent the evening combing through the high school's security video to try to create a timeline of events.

No charges have been filed and the names of those involved have not been released.

All after-school activities were canceled. The school district says the safety and security of their students and staff are "paramount." Classes are expected to resume Thursday as scheduled.

The school is located near Benjamin E Mays Drive SW and Fairburn Road SW. 

SIMILAR STORY: Two people shot during fight in Cobb County high school parking lot

Mays High School shooting happened on 6th anniversary of Parkland shooting

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens graduated from Mays High School. During a press conference Wednesday evening, he renewed his commitment to ending youth violence and wiping away the stain left by this shooting.

"Incidents like today, where young folks can have access to a gun, this is concerning and dangerous," Mayor Dickens said.

The shooting happened on the grim anniversary of another school shooting. On Feb. 14, 2018, a 19-year-old gunman entered Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School, located just outside of Miami, Florida. A total of 17 people were killed, and 17 others injured. It was the deadliest high school shooting in U.S. history.

While all are expected to survive Wednesday’s Atlanta school shooting, Mayor Dickens still finds it more than troubling.

"I’m shocked and heartbroken. This is the place where I spent four years of my life as a student and I climbed this hill every day, going to class," the mayor said. "I feel sorry for the young people that have been impacted by this, both directly that have been shot, and those indirectly that were around to witness that, and those right now that are being inconvenienced."

The mayor said he hopes they can get a good night’s sleep knowing officers with APS and APD are working hard to protect their safety. He also reiterated that he wants parents to know both agencies take student safety seriously.

"They’re interested in their future and a couple of bad actors have just disrupted this day, but they’re not going to disrupt their dreams, and we’re going to help them get to where they’re going in life," the mayor said.

The mayor said he will make sure that the school and its students will not have a black eye because of the shooting.

What is Atlanta’s Year of the Youth

One of the ways the mayor said he will make sure security is increased at the southwest Atlanta high school on Thursday.

"In the hallways, outside, as they come into the school, very visible, so they feel much more comfortable when they come into school," said Chief Applin. 

The mayor addressed parents directly, saying that next week is winter break for Atlanta Public Schools. He says the Atlanta’s Year of the Youth program has tips, free programs, and more to help keep children out of trouble.

He said that while crime is down across the community, youth crime continues to be a major concern. Combating that begins at home.

Parents can find resources by going to atlyouthengage.com.