Murder in the Daylight
"Please don't kill my son," Minyone Patterson begged, speaking as a manhunt unfolded for Deion Patterson in Cobb County.
Deion Patterson, a Coast Guard veteran described by his family as suffering from a mental health crisis, was formally charged this morning with murder and aggravated assault charges after allegedly shooting up a medical waiting room in Midtown yesterday afternoon.
One woman, Amy St. Pierre, is dead. Four other women are injured. At the time of this writing, three are injured critically.
I spoke briefly with his mother Minyone Patterson yesterday afternoon, as her son was on the run after jacking a car and dumping it in the Cumberland Mall area of Cobb County.
“My son has never hurt no one like this ever before,” she said. “And this is nothing but medication that they gave from the damn military, when all he needed was his Ativan.”
Deion Patterson served as an electrician’s mate in the Coast Guard from July 2018 until his discharge in January. “The Coast Guard Investigative Service is working closely with the Atlanta Police Department and local authorities in the investigation,” the Coast Guard said in a statement.
Minyone, a nurse, said her son’s mental health problems were a product of his military service. He had been prescribed Ativan, but doctors switched his prescription to Hydroxyzine last Friday, which created problems, Minyone said. “Ativan was keeping him stabilized. I told the nurse that. I told her to tell her doctor that. [The doctor] kept telling me that the Ativan was too addictive. And I told her we tried all these other medications and they made him sick. he wouldn't eat, he wouldn't sleep. He would we be up anxious and depressed. And I told her, that Ativan stabilized my baby. He was fine. He was able to eat and drink and was helping me cook.”
“Now this has happened. I don’t know where my son is. I need you to put this out there so that they don’t kill my son as they’re talking about him being armed and dangerous, when he has some mental illness because of this f…ing medication.”
She’s looking for the arraignment this morning at the Fulton County Courthouse. The sheriff’s office told her it would happen at 11:30 a.m., but didn’t tell her where. It went down on Zoom, and I’m pretty sure she missed it.
Meanwhile, the media is treating the shooting like a Superbowl event. The AJC’s spread with banner headlines and blackout backgrounds online is exactly the way it played the Trump courthouse scene and the Bulldogs championship win.
“This was a horrible act of gun violence, but equally horrifying is that we know that this is not unique in our country,” Mayor Andre Dickens said yesterday at a press conference about an hour after Cobb County police arrested Patterson. “In 2023 alone, there have been nearly 200 reported instances of mass shootings in America.”
“Equally horrifying.” I question that.
Two days ago, two people were killed and two others injured in a shooting in DeKalb County, about two miles north of my house in Pine Lake. This meets the definition of a mass shooting. 36-year-old Twayne Worthy and 36-year-old Deenay Munford are both as dead as 39-year-old Amy St. Pierre. But that event did not end with press conferences and statements by congresswomen, sitting U.S. Senators or Governor Brian Kemp.
Because a shooting off of North Hairston Road near Central Avenue outside of Stone Mountain is considered “normal.”
Amos King, a retired Army colonel and talk show host, is a DeKalb activist who is a close observer of criminal justice issues. He heard the shots in the Stone Mountain mass shooting, as did I. “That’s kind of normal,” he said. “I’m surprised two people were killed and one injured, but it happens.”
I don’t want to give short shrift to the drama associated with locking down a city block and snarling traffic across Atlanta on a manhunt for an alleged murderer. Schools in Cobb County went to “yellow alert” while police searched for Patterson … and, isn’t the existence of something like a color-coded alert system for elementary schools an indictment of our society all on its own.
Nor do I want to downplay the loss of Amy St. Pierre to our community. She and I traveled in the same social circles. She was a political progressive who was engaged in issues of criminal justice reform. Her loss leaves a hole in the world.
But the word normal is what people use in place of the more appropriate term: predictable. There’s no such thing as a “normal” shooting in Atlanta or anywhere else. Hell, I’ve been present for a shooting on in Atlanta, and I don’t consider it normal.
There are, however, predictable shootings. And this wasn’t one of those.
Atlanta has been making meaningful progress reducing violence over the last year. Homicides have fallen by about 30 percent year over year and about 40 percent in the last four months, according to APD’s statistics. That improvement is a product of improving economic conditions, the end of the pandemic, and very deliberate actions.
“We have taken extraordinary measures in Atlanta to bring down violent crime in this city,” Dickens said. “We’ve enhanced our policing. We’ve invested in non-policing activities that make our city safer. We’ve investing in the root causes of crime at the same time that we’re cracking down on repeat offenders who commit violence in our community. Those measures have produced great results. … Those are not just stats. Those are real people who are not going to be victims of violence.”
I agree there is a double standard in news coverage and I have many questions about the office shooting that will come out in the wash. But one thought: If the mom was taking charge of her son’s mental health, she should have noticed the firearm and kept it away from him.
I dunno about the south, but up here, a predictable murder means that the killer at least *knew* the victim, which means any random killing - even when targeting someone you know - is counted as "unpredictable".