Visitors, employees flee as 2 shot in CNN building; 1 dies

Gunfire at the CNN Center sent employees and visitors to the landmark scurrying for cover as a domestic dispute turned violent, leading to the fatal shooting of a hotel employee and the wounding of her former boyfriend.

Police said the couple argued inside the lobby of the Omni Hotel, which is part of the CNN complex in downtown Atlanta, then he dragged her down an escalator and shot her. A CNN security guard who witnessed the altercation then shot the man, critically wounding as lunchtime wound down Tuesday.

"All of a sudden we heard a big boom. We thought it was an explosion," said Trina Johnson, 44, of Atlanta, who was with her daughter in the food court in the CNN atrium. "We didn't see the gun. Everybody just started running."

The Omni employee was identified as Clara Riddles, 22, according to Caryn Kboudi, a spokeswoman for the Irving, Texas-based Omni Hotel chain. Kboudi said Riddles checked and restocked mini-bars in the hotel rooms.

She was transported to Grady Memorial Hospital after the shooting and was pronounced dead on arrival, hospital spokeswoman Denise Simpson said. The man, identified by police as Arthur Mann, in his late 30s, was in stable condition at the hospital's detention center. He is being charged with murder, Atlanta Police officer James Polite said.

CNN reported that the offices of its Internet operations,, were immediately evacuated. Video footage showed police pointing guns at a man lying on the ground at the bottom of the escalator going from CNN Center to Omni Hotel lobby.

An announcement over the building's public-address system said there had been gunfire "with potential casualties." Police cordoned off an area by the escalators near the main entrance of the building, facing Centennial Olympic Park.

Besides CNN, the complex includes the Omni Hotel, a large atrium, food court, a book store and some souvenir shops. It is connected to Philips Arena, home of the NBA's Atlanta Hawks and NHL's Atlanta Thrashers. Nearby is the Georgia Dome, the home of the NFL's Atlanta Falcons and where college basketball's national championship game was played Monday night.

The security guard, 10-year veteran Odell Adams, saw the couple arguing, and when the man fired his gun, Adams shot the man, said Lisa Tobias, director of corporate responsibility for Turner Broadcasting System, which operates CNN.

Soon afterward, CNN's own coverage of the shooting was being shown on large-screen televisions inside the atrium, near where the shooting had just taken place.

CNN employees are barred from commenting publicly by company policy.

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Author`s name Angela Antonova