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Local guitarist shot in East Atlanta 

The Fabulous Lounge Punks were poised for glory. They were preparing to play the Atlantis Music Conference, and an entertainment attorney was shopping their music to major record labels. On Friday, two bullets from a .357 Magnum changed all that.

Scott Lambert and a friend were returning to Lambert's car after stopping by the Echo Lounge on East Atlanta's Flat Shoals Avenue when they noticed the dome light in Lambert's 1999 Acura Integra was on and a man was sitting in the driver's seat.

Lambert darted forward and his friend ran after him. They both realized that the car was being burglarized. Lambert reached into the shattered driver's side window and grabbed the burglar. His friend, who has asked to remain anonymous until the suspect is arrested, was right behind him. His friend managed to get his left arm inside the window and grab the burglar by the arm. Suddenly the friend heard a muffled sound that wasn't really like a gunshot.

"And then two really clear shots," he says. "Then, I saw Scott fall backward on the ground. I knew I was going to get shot if I didn't take off."

The friend ran toward Stokeswood Avenue and flagged down a police officer.

Arriving back at the scene with the officer, they found Lambert staggering. He collapsed near the car. The friend says he didn't realize just how badly Lambert was hurt until he was trying to hold Lambert and get him to lie down. When he got a good look at his face, he "lost it. I was crying hysterically."

Lambert, despite having had most of his mouth and cheek shot off, was able to communicate with hand signals, and confirmed for police that the gun the burglar had used was Lambert's own that he kept in his car. Lambert was admitted to Grady Memorial Hospital's intensive care unit, where he was listed earlier this week in serious condition.

The gunman had not been apprehended and the gun was still missing Tuesday. The suspect is described as a lanky black male who was wearing a beige baseball cap and green shirt. Anyone with any information that might aid in the shooter's arrest is urged to call the Atlanta Police Department's homicide unit at 404-853-4235.

Cole Skinner, owner of the Echo Lounge, points out that Lambert wasn't shot in the club's parking lot, but off a neighboring side street. Nonetheless, he's aware of the neighborhood's dangers. He's asked the Atlanta Police Department to meticulously patrol the area and has employed security as well.

"With the number of APD officers and security guys we have walking around inside and outside the Echo, I don't think coming to see a show here is any more dangerous than leaving your house to go anywhere in any big city," says Skinner. "There are just evil people all over this planet and some of them live in Atlanta."

Rhonda Graves, 40, has lived in East Atlanta for eight years. She says when she first moved in, there were few pedestrians because there was nowhere to go. Now, people are always walking from their homes to the shops along Flat Shoals Avenue, with their kids and dogs in tow -- in the daylight hours.

"I think it's definitely improved, but I think people are getting a false sense of security," she says. "Coming home from a bar at 1 a.m. you need to be aware of your surroundings."

Lambert's friend, though, says he's through with East Atlanta.

"I personally will not go down to East Atlanta again," he says. "I just think there's a false sense of security there. It attracts these eccentric types who want to go some place that's a little risky -- it makes them feel cool -- but it's still filled with people who wouldn't mind shooting you."

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