An armored car guard is dead after he was shot several times by an armed robber while leaving in Toco Hill Shopping Center on Tuesday afternoon, an FBI official said – the seventh in a recent string of increasingly brazen armored car robberies throughout the Atlanta area.
The FBI, which is investigating the case, has not released the guard's name. A gunman shot the guard three times as he was leaving the grocery store and returning to his armored car, which was parked at the curb at 2205 Lavista Road shortly after noon, said Stephen Emmett, an FBI special agent. The shooter then hopped into a getaway car driven by another suspect and immediately fled the scene with an undisclosed amount of money, he said.
The guard was taken to Grady Hospital in Atlanta where he later died of his injuries, according to an FBI statement. Emmett called the robberies "ruthless" and said the store's surveillance camera captured the shooting – footage the bureau has not yet released.
"They fire on guards without any provocation," he said. "It is very disturbing."
Garda Cash Logistics, the Montreal company that employed the guard, did not immediately return a call for comment. But the company is offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the men responsible.
“We are deeply saddened by the death of our colleague in today’s incident and extend our condolences to his family," Garda representatives said in a statement through the FBI Tuesday afternoon. "We are cooperating with law enforcement in investigating the incident and therefore cannot provide any additional details.”
Casey Robinson, 31, of Atlanta, was at down the sidewalk when the robbery occurred. He said the packed coffee shop heard about five shots, and many of them rushed to the Kroger to find the guard lying on the ground, bleeding and unconscious.
"We really didn't know what was going on until the [victim] was laying on the ground," he said.
Several employees of adjacent businesses said they heard the shots but mistook them for a car backfiring.
"I heard a noise but wasn't paying attention," said Lisa Strohsnitter, a manager at . "Then someone came in and said there had been a shooting."
Malina Banks, a manager at , was also working when the robbery occurred. While the armored car robbery was particularly vicious, crime isn't anything new in the shopping center or at nearby businesses. She said she recalls a number of unpublicized robberies over the last several years at neighborhood banks and stores.
"It's a recession and people are desperate," Banks said. "It's just what comes with the territory when people are desperate. But Toco Hills is a great location."
The FBI has been chasing the men responsible for the crimes since Sept. 14 when two men robbed a Garda armored courier while he was servicing an ATM at a Bank of America on Howell Mill Road. Two men struck again in Marietta Oct. 7 when they robbed a courier at gunpoint inside a Mex-America Latino store.
Another robbery occurred in Buford on Nov. 11, Snellville on Nov. 29 and inside the Mall of Georgia in Gwinnett County on Dec. 7. A second courier was able to fire at one of the robbers who fled the mall through a side door, according to an FBI statement. The most recent robbery occurred at a Wells Fargo bank on Redan Road in Stone Mountain on Jan. 21. Two men fired on one of the guards who was taken to the hospital with multiple gunshot wounds. He required surgery, the statement said, but he survived.
Any witness who was in the area at the time and observed this incident or anyone with information is urged to contact the FBI at 404-679-9000.