Witness alerted Atlanta store manager to heavily armed man, police say

Multiple firearms
Weapons that suspect Rico Marley allegedly had with him when he was arrested Wednesday in Atlanta.
(Atlanta Police Department)

A sharp-eyed Instacart worker is getting credit for averting what could have been another awful crime in Atlanta, where a man brought body armor, ammunition and at least five guns into a grocery store, police said.

Charles Russell spotted the man inside a bathroom stall with one of the rifles and alerted a manager at the Publix store, urging him to call 911. Police then converged on the store and arrested the man without a shot being fired.

The incident happened days after eight people, including six women of Asian descent, were fatally shot at three massage businesses in the Atlanta area.


Rico Marley, 22, was scheduled for an initial court hearing Thursday on charges including weapons possession during an attempt to commit felonies. Investigators also said Marley was undergoing a psychiatric evaluation. It’s unclear whether he had an attorney.

Russell told WSB-TV that when he saw the man in the store’s bathroom, he immediately thought of Monday’s mass shooting at a the King Soopers supermarket in Boulder, Colo., which left 10 people dead.

“I seen an AR-15,” Russell told the TV station. “[That] kind of startled me, with the events that recently happened in the grocery store up in Colorado. To be able to stop it [a shooting], if it were going to be something, that’s what I cared about.”

The 21-year-old man charged with 10 counts of murder in the shootings in Boulder, Colo., makes his first appearance in court Thursday.

March 25, 2021

Atlanta police spokesman Anthony Grant said officers responded to the Atlanta Station Publix at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday and saw Marley leaving the bathroom. Grant said the officers quickly held Marley for questioning, and found two long guns and three pistols concealed on him. Police later said a sixth gun was in his possession as well.

Police have been working since then to determine what Marley planned to do with the arsenal. There were no reports of Marley pointing a weapon or using one before authorities arrived.