Atlanta shootings: Four killed in shootout

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Keirl Johnson, left, and Joshua Southall were among those killed in the shootout

Four people, including a police officer, have been killed in a shootout in an Atlanta neighbourhood.

Three of the dead were found in a car that was riddled with bullets when police arrived after reports of gunfire in northeast Atlanta.

Three other victims, a pair of children and a man, were found dead inside another vehicle nearby.

Initial reports suggest one person in the car may have been an accomplice, though police said this was not certain.

Saturday’s shootings followed an apparent stand-off in the quiet neighbourhood, northeast of the city’s downtown.

A pair of children aged 12 and 13 were taken to hospital in critical condition.

Two of the victims are thought to be the children’s parents, while the father was an off-duty police officer with the Atlanta suburb of Sandy Springs.

He has been identified as Keirl Johnson, 38, who was pronounced dead at the scene.

At the time of the shooting, he was about to drive his son to kindergarten, Atlanta police said.

It’s currently unclear why the man was in the neighbourhood and why he was in the vehicles at all.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Keirl Johnson leaves behind two sons aged 7 and 12

A spokesman for Sandy Springs police said Johnson was a 29-year police veteran, and would be remembered for his dedication and record of service.

“We will come together and support each other as we move forward knowing that no tragedy like this is too great for this community,” he added.

An off-duty police officer who was also in the area at the time was shot but “was alert and conscious” when taken to hospital, police said.

Image copyright Mark Rowland Image caption Officer Keirl Johnson is understood to have been off-duty at the time of the shooting

A police spokesman said that he was recovering after having been grazed in the stomach by one of the bullets.

Video from the scene showed armed officers surrounding a white car in a quiet cul-de-sac.

Witnesses reported seeing three men getting out of a vehicle and opening fire on the officers before speeding away.

Gunfire was exchanged with the gunmen as they sped away and then they all managed to run off, police said.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The shooting was believed to be a stand-off before the officers arrived

While officers focused on tracking the suspects, three people were found dead in a vehicle parked nearby, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper.

Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents are leading the investigation.

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