Friday, June 17, 2011

Was the helicopter really necessary at Screen on the Green? Well, maybe it was

Posted By on Fri, Jun 17, 2011 at 4:38 PM

click to enlarge Screen on the Green of yesteryear - CL FILE
  • CL File
  • Screen on the Green of yesteryear

No, there wasn't an escaped mental patient on the loose in Piedmont Park after last night's Screen on the Green. In response to last year's "incident" during a screening of "Transformers 2," the Atlanta Police Department says it's increased officer presence to ensure patrons' safety. Last night, that increased presence included — but certainly wasn't limited to — a ghetto bird hovering above, shining its billion-watt (roughly) flashlight into the crowd.

I was there last night, and I don't know about you guys, but police helicopters make me nervous. I approached a patrol officer standing on the park's periphery and asked him — in earnest — whether there was a fugitive on the loose. He asked why, and I explained that there'd been a helicopter circling the park for the past 35 minutes. He looked at his watch and corrected me — it had been more like 25 minutes — and said that the helicopter was there because of what happened last year. APD spokesman Carlos Campos confirmed: "Routine patrol. Helpful with large crowds."

BUT, there actually WAS something going down after Screen on the Green. Three teenagers were shot — by a single suspect — after they left the event. Here's APD's statement:

Thursday night, shortly before 11 p.m., Zone 5 units responded to a person shot call at Crescent Ave. and 10th Street in Midtown.

Upon arrival, they found a 18-year-old victim with a gunshot wound to his lower left leg. He was transported to Atlanta Medical Center. A second victim, a 17-year-old male, later showed up at Southern Regional Hospital with a gunshot wound to his upper right leg. A third male victim, aged 16, showed up later at Grady Memorial Hospital with a gunshot wound to the right leg below the knee. All three victims were listed in stable condition at the time.

A suspect, Christopher Thornton, DOB 2/17/93, was arrested and found in possession of a handgun. Preliminary investigation determined that witnesses reported two groups of black males fighting with each other at the intersection of Peachtree and 10th streets after leaving the Screen on the Green event. We have not been able to corroborate accounts of whether participants in the incident attended the event, however. The matter has been turned over to investigators. It should be noted that there were no major incidents at the Screen on the Green event itself, or in Piedmont Park. Atlanta Police presence has been increased to ensure the safety of patrons at the event.

So, maybe we do need helicopters out?

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