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Shooter dies on way to hospital after wounding 2 drivers on Ga. 365
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Hall County Sheriff's Office deputies work a crime scene along Ga. Highway 365 on Friday, May 4, 2018, after at least two men were shot in the area of Whitehall Road and Ga. 365. - photo by Scott Rogers

A gunman opened fire on passing cars in a random act of violence that wounded two drivers Friday afternoon, authorities said.

The suspect then apparently shot himself after his car was stopped by law enforcement after a short chase, according to the Hall County Sheriff’s Office. Hall County Coroner Marion Merck said the suspect died on his way to Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta. 

The suspect was spotted in a green passenger car leaving the woodline in the area of Whitehall Road and Ga. 365 after shots were reported to 911 by victims close to noon Friday.

Three cars were hit. Two patients, a 72-year-old man shot in the hip and a 54-year-old man shot in the leg, were transported to Northeast Georgia Medical Center by Hall County Fire Services and Habersham County EMS.

They were both in satisfactory condition as of 2 p.m. Friday, May 4, according to Northeast Georgia Health System spokeswoman Beth Downs.

“We transported one patient and Habersham EMS transported the second due to being closer on the scene,” Fire Services Capt. Zachary Brackett said in an announcement.

The identity of the male shooter is known to the Hall County Sheriff’s Office but is not being released at this time, according to Lt. Scott Ware.

In a Friday afternoon press conference, Ware said he couldn’t disclose any information about the type of firearms used in the shooting, how many firearms were in the vehicle or the number of shots fired. Investigators believe the shooting was random, but the investigation is ongoing. 

“At approximately noon, several victims were traveling on Ga. 365 and called 911 to report that they had been shot at. The victims at that point did not know where the gunshots had come from,” Sheriff’s Office public information officer Derreck Booth said at the press conference.

The two wounded drivers reported their own injuries, according to Ware.

Georgia State Patrol attempted to stop the vehicle, but the car sped away.

After a brief chase, the shooter’s car was stopped by law enforcement and he was found unconscious in his vehicle with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, Booth said. 

Booth said there was only one shooter, and law enforcement did not fire any rounds.

More vehicles may have been damaged by gunfire. Motorists driving on Ga. 365 near Whitehall Road around noon that find such damage should call 770-536-8812 and ask for the investigator.

“As incidents of this nature tragically become more common across the nation, we now have the unfortunate task of experiencing it right here in Hall County,” Hall County Sheriff Gerald Couch said in a statement. “Despite the chaotic nature of the incident, personnel from the Hall County Sheriff’s Office, Georgia State Patrol, Gainesville Police Department and Hall County Fire Services all performed admirably and worked together to quickly mitigate the situation and bring it to a close without any further casualties. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those involved.” 

A Shell gas station on Mud Creek Road had been cordoned off by law enforcement, but the property wasn’t discussed at the press conference. 

North of the gas station on Ga. 365, Chris Aymes was sitting in his truck near the Waffle House when he saw law enforcement lay spike strips on the highway near the intersection with Lula Road. 

A car hit the strips and was brought to a stop, according to Aymes, who didn’t mention any sounds of gunfire.

Due to the active scene, cars were stopped on the roadway about an hour before they were diverted.

“Someone flagged me down and told me not to go that way,” said Shelly Echols of Jaemor Farms after the incident. “They’ve got the highway shut down because it’s a shooter, but I live close to (Ga.) 365 so I just came home. There were helicopters and sirens that I heard.”

Her husband, farm owner Drew Echols, said it was closed down from south of Jaemor to the Habersham County line.

Reporters Nick Watson, Nick Bowman and Joshua Silavent contributed to this report.

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