A man was arrested Wednesday after entering a Publix supermarket in Atlanta with five firearms and body armor, police said. The man, who Atlanta police have identified as 22-year-old Rico Marley, has been charged with reckless conduct.
Police did not provide evidence that Marley planned to carry out a shooting at the store that day. But the incident occurred in the wake of two mass shootings that have shaken the nation and prompted widespread calls for gun reform: the shooting at a supermarket in Boulder, Colorado, that killed 10 people, and a series of shootings at three Atlanta-area spas that killed eight.
Atlanta police said a preliminary investigation revealed that Marley entered the store Wednesday afternoon openly carrying a rifle and entered a bathroom. A witness noticed him and alerted a store manager, who then called police. Police said they responded to the incident shortly after 1:30 p.m. and “immediately detained” Marley when he exited the bathroom. Emergency medical responders also arrived at the scene to conduct a mental health evaluation.
Marley was carrying two long guns and three pistols, police said. Police did not report any injuries or any shots fired.
Publix said in a statement that its Atlantic Station location is cooperating with law enforcement on the investigation.
“We are thankful that there were no injuries, and all were able to exit the store safely,” Publix said. “The store is currently closed. Additional questions should be directed to the Atlanta Police Department.”
Later in the day, Atlantic Station — the upscale commercial area where the Publix is located — said it was shutting down while authorities investigated a suspicious package found onsite. It is not clear if the package is linked to the earlier incident.
“We are closely monitoring the situation alongside APD, and we will reopen as soon as possible,” an Atlantic Station spokesperson tweeted on Wednesday evening. “The safety of the Atlantic Station community is of utmost importance.”
At the request of the APD, we have shut down the interior shopping district streets at Atlantic Station and the parking deck to ensure the safety of the community as authorities investigate the suspicious package found onsite. (1/2)
— Atlantic Station (@AtlanticStation) March 24, 2021
Someone who said they live in Atlantic Station tweeted an email from building management warning of the closure.
A day in @MidtownATL… At 3p my building was locked down due to a shooting and at 530 it was locked down again for a “suspicious package.” @AtlanticStation #springfever pic.twitter.com/nGf54wwgBi
— Wilson (@gunrwilson) March 24, 2021
Firearm licenses in Georgia allow people to “legally carry a concealed firearm” in the state, according to the state’s website. It is not clear if Marley had a license — but in 2019, Publix joined a growing list of retailers that asked customers not to carry weapons inside their stores even if it was legally permitted in the state.