Dekalb County Police SWAT officers run toward Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy after reports of a gunman in the school, Decatur, Georgia. (Photo by Associated Press)
DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. -- Students will return to class at Ronald McNair Discovery Learning Academy Wednesday morning, but should report to McNair High School on Bouldercrest Road.
Students will be picked up as usual by school buses and taken to McNair High.
Superintendent Michael Thurmond said absences will not be counted as students return to class. He said following Tuesday's event, students who are unable to attend class will receive an excused absence.
The school system will have a crisis intervention team and counselors at the McNair High School to talk with students about Tuesday's shooting, as needed by each child.
Tuesday night, authorities identified 20-year-old Michael Brandon Hill as the suspect in the shooting at the DeKalb County school that afternoon.
According to DeKalb County Police, Hill will be charged with aggravated assault on a police officer, terroristic threats and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
DeKalb School spokesperson Quinn Hudson says all students were accounted for and no one was injured.
Late Tuesday afternoon SWAT members went into the suspect's home.
DeKalb County Police said they responded to a call of shots fired at the Ronald McNair Discovery Learning Academy on 2nd Avenue in unincorporated DeKalb County.
In a news conference, DeKalb County Police Chief Cedric Alexander said the suspect was a white male, dressed in all black, and carrying an AK-47 assault rifle and other weapons. DeKalb County police said the suspect lives near the school.
Alexander said the suspect was holding school staff members captive in the school's office.
Police Chief Alexander says the suspect stepped outside the school and fired multiple shots at officers. Officers fired back and the suspect dropped to the ground and surrendered.
A team from the U.S. Marshals Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force, along with officers from the DeKalb County Sheriff's Office, the DeKalb County Police Department, DeKalb County School Resource Officers and U.S. Marshals from the Northern District of Georgia were all on scene.
After he was arrested, the suspect was turned over to the DeKalb County Police Department. According to SERFF supervisory inspector Jim Joyner, personnel from the task force joined in searching and securing the school.
Chief Alexander said that once the suspect's car was located near the front of the school. A K9 unit "hit" on the car, noting the possible presence of explosives in the vehicle. A search of the car later found no explosives.
Police officers took the students from the field in the rear of the school away from the school building. They cut a hole in the fence surrounding the field to keep the students away from the vehicle and investigation at the front of the school.
County officials said there was no indication of any motive.
Students were bused to a Walmart store at the corner of Gresham and Flat Shoals roads, near Interstate 20, to be reunited with their parents.
Thurmond was working with crews from the Walmart to hand out water to parents waiting for buses there.
Buses began to arrive at the Walmart shortly after 4 p.m.
DeKalb School spokesperson Quinn Hudson says when the suspect entered the school, he had demands to speak to a local television station. Once reports of the suspect came in, the students were taken out of the rear of the building into a field behind the school.
US Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga. 5th) came to the Walmart where families were being reunited, and later issued a statement.
"I am deeply disturbed by the shooting at McNair Learning Academy. As a society, we must find a way to deal with the fact that there is too much violence on our city streets. Somehow and some way we must convey the message to young and old that violence is not an effective way to solve human problems. And when we come to that understanding as a nation, this nightmare will end.
"Until that time, my thoughts and prayers are with those who have been terrorized by this incident, even some children attending school for the first time this August. The law enforcement officers of Dekalb County, McNair Academy school personnel, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Georgia state troopers and all officials involved deserve our thanks and highest praise for securing a very dangerous situation so that no child or adult was physically injured. Their primary concern was for the safety of the children, and they successfully protected them from greater harm."
On Tuesday afternoon, Superintendent Michael Thurmond released a statement saying:
"All children are safe as well as the employees and staff of Ronald McNair Discovery Learning Academy. I want to thank law enforcement (FBI, GBI, DeKalb County Police, DeKalb County School System Police, and the DeKalb Sheriff's Department) for their professional and timely response to this crisis. Due to their efforts, a potentially tragic outcome was avoided. I want to thank the parents who supported the District and waited at Walmart through this collaborative effort as we worked to ensure that the safety of our students was paramount.
"The District has taken measures to allow for Ronald McNair Discovery Learning Academy to maintain its core business of teaching and learning, and all classes for the students will continue at McNair High School on Wednesday, August 21, 2013. Student transportation will continue as normal to McNair High School located at 1804 Bouldercrest Road, SE Atlanta 30316; however, any student unable to attend school tomorrow will receive an excused absence. A crisis intervention team and counselors will be on site to assist students and staff as needed."
The school is an elementary school in the Candler-McAfee area of unincorporated DeKalb County and part of the public school system in DeKalb County.