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Chop Shop Uncovered During Police Shootout

Atlanta Journal Constitution via YellowBrix

July 22, 2010

ATLANTA – A state Capitol police officer was released from the hospital Wednesday evening after he was grazed by a bullet during a confrontation with three alleged motorcycle thieves, authorities said.

Three suspects, including one who is hospitalized, are in custody after officers investigating the shooting discovered a suspected motorcycle “chop shop.”

The wounded officer, 28-year-old Mark Edge, arrived at Hilliard Street and Edgewood Avenue around 2 p.m. Wednesday to offer backup to a state trooper responding to the theft in process, said Gordy Wright, spokesman for the Georgia Department of Public Safety.

When the officers arrived in a nearby alleyway, gunfire was exchanged and one of the suspects was hit, Wright said. The injured suspect is at Grady Memorial Hospital in unknown condition.

The other two suspects fled on foot into buildings along a stretch of Edgewood near the Downtown Connector. They were found hiding in a building not far from the site of the shootout and apprehended without incident, Wright said.

Tyrone Alexander, 50, of College Park was renovating a restaurant space on Edgewood next to Pizzeria Vesuvius. He said he heard “six or seven shots” from the back alley.

“Me and my friends looked at each other and said, ‘That didn’t sound good.’ The next thing we know, the whole street was swarmed with cops,” he said.

At least a dozen police and emergency vehicles were on the scene, including officers with Fulton, APD and GBI.

Another witness, Runell Culpepper, 56, said she saw a man fleeing on foot from the apparent site of the shooting toward Grady Hospital.

“He was running from something,” Culpepper said.

Steve Julal was just arriving at his CPA firm at 325 Edgewood when he said he heard “more than four shots.”

He said he saw one victim, but he couldn’t tell if it was a police officer.

“I didn’t see the shots, I heard them,” he said.

Edge has been with the Department of Public Safety since 2001 and joined the Capitol Police Unit in 2006, Wright said.

Police pulled at least seven motorcycles out of an apartment in the alleyway near where the shooting occurred.

“They always had bikes in and out and lots of people coming in and out,” Martin Gallard, who lives in the area, told WSB-TV.

Police evacuated numerous nearby businesses after the shooting, including the Purple Door Salon, owned by “Real Housewives of Atlanta” star Dwight Eubanks.

“We have patrons in the salon … we have patrons in the street. They’re telling us we can’t get back in to get the chemicals out of their hair,” Eubanks told WSB-TV during the height of the evacuation.

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