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Man With 6 Firearms Arrested At Grocery Store Following Tip From 'Startled' Shopper

This photo provided by the Atlanta Police Department shows weapons Rico Marley was armed with at the time of his arrest on Wednesday.
This photo provided by the Atlanta Police Department shows weapons Rico Marley was armed with at the time of his arrest on Wednesday.

A 22-year-old man armed with multiple guns was arrested on Wednesday in Atlanta after a shopper overheard him loading weapons in a grocery store bathroom.

Charles Russell was entering the restroom in a Publix supermarket when he heard "clicking sounds" coming from a bathroom stall, according to a police incident report. Then he saw an AR-15-style rifle leaning against the wall.

Russell, who works as a shopper for the grocery delivery service Instacart, rushed to alert Publix staff, who then called security. Soon after, an Atlanta police officer arrived at the store and arrested Rico Marley, who was found with six loaded firearms, including four handguns, an AR-15-style rifle and a shotgun.

Marley was also wearing body armor, according to the report.

While police have not yet said why Marley brought the weapons into the store, Russell said seeing the rifle put him on edge following the mass shooting days earlier at a Boulder, Colo., grocery store that left 10 people dead. That attack took place less than a week after a series of shootings killed eight people, including six women of Asian descent, at Atlanta-area spas.

"This kind of startled me just again with the events that recently happened in the grocery store up in Colorado," Russell told WSB-TV, an Atlanta television station.

A person who worked as an Instacart shopper was among the victims killed in the Boulder shooting, according to a statement from the company.

The back-to-back events in Atlanta and Colorado have forced mass shootings back into the national political spotlight.

Following the Boulder attack, President Biden urged Congress to pass gun control measures that would ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, though when asked about federal legislation and executive action on gun control during his first news conference as president, Biden suggested that his next major initiative would be infrastructure.

"It's a matter of timing," Biden said.

Marley, the suspect in the Publix incident, has been charged with five counts of criminal attempt of aggravated assault and six counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, according to a news release from the Atlanta Police Department. He was transported to the Fulton County Jail on Wednesday.

Russell told WSB-TV that public spaces like grocery stores and movie theaters no longer feel safe.

"To be able to stop it, if it were going to be something, that's what I cared about," he said. "I don't want to still see those [weapons] out in public places anymore."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.