LITHONIA, Ga. — A woman whose family once took in the suspect in an Atlanta-area school shooting said Wednesday that he was mentally ill but never violent in the past.
Natasha Knotts said that Michael Brandon Hill lived with her and her husband for a time when he was in his late teens. She said she served as a mother figure for Hill after he started coming to the small church where she and her husband are pastors.
Also on Wednesday, police gave more details about the ordeal and what led up to it. Before going to the school, investigators said Hill took a photo of himself with an AK 47-style rifle and packed up nearly 500 rounds of ammunition.
Police said Hill got the gun from an acquaintance, but it’s not clear if he stole it or had permission to take it.
No one was injured, but the suspect exchanged gunfire with police who surrounded Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy in Decatur. The school’s 870 students in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade were evacuated.
“We have to make a reasonable assumption he was there to do harm to someone,” DeKalb County Police Chief Cedric L. Alexander said .
Knotts said Hill called her sister Tuesday afternoon before the shooting and said he had a rifle but didn’t say what he was planning to do. She said she believes that Hill acted out as a plea for help.
“This is something that’s totally out of his character. This is not him. This is not the Mike that I know. For anyone that knew Mike, this was a total devastation,” she said in an interview at her home in Lithonia.