The hijacked bus on the side of the road after the lengthy chase on Tuesday afternoon. 
Ben Gray/AP

Atlanta police had just concluded informing the community about a shooting incident within a downtown food court on Tuesday afternoon when reports started flooding in regarding a bus hijacking.

According to authorities, a gunman commandeered a commuter bus carrying 17 individuals and used one of the passengers’ firearms to shoot one of them. This spurred frantic calls to 911 and desperate text messages to loved ones seeking assistance.

Upon police arrival, the situation intensified as they attempted to engage the suspect, identified as 39-year-old felon Joseph Grier. Grier, holding the bus driver at gunpoint, compelled the driver to accelerate away from the scene, revealed Atlanta Police Chief, Darin Schierbaum.

What ensued was a dramatic police pursuit during rush hour, with the bus maneuvering through highway lanes and suburban roads, occasionally colliding with other vehicles and veering into oncoming traffic.

Remarkably, a passenger covertly remained connected to a 911 call, enabling authorities to discern the chaos unfolding inside, as recounted by Schierbaum. Mayor Andre Dickens likened the scene to a movie, describing the suspect’s threatening demeanor towards the bus driver, warning against halting the bus.

Ultimately, the bus came to a stop on a serene street lined with trees in the suburb of Stone Mountain. Passengers disembarked, and Grier was apprehended without resistance, as confirmed by the police.

Police and fire trucks border the bus after the chase stopped in Atlanta. Ben Gray/AP

The commandeered Gwinnett County Transit bus is a crucial link in the network of commuter routes connecting Atlanta’s vast suburbs. Among its passengers was Paulette Gilbert, who reached out to her husband from aboard the bus as the dramatic events unfolded.

According to Johnny Gilbert, Paulette appeared shocked and fearful as she recounted the unsettling behavior of a man who had boarded the bus. She described how the man engaged in a disturbing altercation with another passenger, allegedly firing a shot, possibly injuring them in the leg.

At approximately 4:30 p.m., police received the initial 911 call from a passenger reporting a gunman holding the bus hostage on Ivan Allen Boulevard, with possible shots fired, according to Schierbaum. The call then abruptly ended.

Shortly after, another call was received from the family of a passenger who had texted them about the bus being hijacked.

Within about a minute of the initial 911 call, an officer arrived at the scene and attempted to confront the suspect. However, the suspect then “forced the bus driver to drive off” claimed Schierbaum.

A third 911 call, made by another passenger, stayed connected throughout the entire chase, enabling dispatchers to provide real-time updates to multiple law enforcement agencies, the chief reported.

The bus, pursued by numerous law enforcement vehicles, traveled along Atlanta’s Interstate 85 during rush hour. It passed through several suburban areas before finally stopping in the city of Stone Mountain.