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Hours before allegedly murdering a man and hijacking a bus, suspect gave rambling interview with TV crews at another shooting scene

Atlanta bus hijacking

Joseph Grier, left, allegedly murdered a man and hijacked a bus in Atlanta. Hours earlier, Grier gave an interview to a TV station claiming he saw another shooting at a local mall. (WXIA/YouTube)

A man allegedly murdered a man and proceeded to hijack a bus with 14 passengers, leading police on a chase through the Atlanta area. But just before that incident, the suspect, 39-year-old Joseph Grier, showed up at a different crime scene, claiming he saw another shooting at a local mall.

According to Atlanta police, Grier is charged with murder and 14 counts each of kidnapping and hijacking a motor vehicle, among other charges. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation said Grier got onto the bus in downtown Atlanta around 4:20 p.m. Tuesday. He began arguing with a man, later identified as 58-year-old Earnest Byrd Jr., who took out a gun. Grier allegedly took the gun, threatened other passengers and shot Byrd. He then forced the bus driver to keep going, leading officers on a chase that traveled from downtown Atlanta to Gwinnett County and east into DeKalb County, the GBI said.

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    The bus hit several police vehicles during the pursuit. Officers also deployed several stop sticks but kept the bus going. A Georgia State Patrol trooper fired his rifle at the engine compartment to force it to cut off, according to agents. Eventually, the bus came to a stop in the 5100 block of Hugh Howell Road in Smoke Rise, about 20 miles from where Grier allegedly took the hostages.

    Officers took Grier into custody and found Byrd suffering from a gunshot wound on the bus. Medical personnel rushed him to the hospital, where he later died. The bus driver was taken to the hospital for treatment. None of the other 14 passengers on the bus were injured.

    Oddly enough, Grier had just been at the site of another shooting scene before hopping on the bus. The GBI said around 2:15 p.m., 34-year-old Jeremy Malone walked into the Peachtree Center Mall in downtown Atlanta, where he got into a fight with another man and shot him near the food court area. He then allegedly shot two other people. An Atlanta police officer reportedly shot him. Malone and the three other victims survived.

    TV news reporters on the scene were interviewing witnesses. One of them was Grier. He claimed to be inside the mall during the shooting and hid from the suspect. NBC affiliate WXIA posted raw footage of the interview. It is a rambling interview, so it’s hard to follow, but Grier first starts talking about his bank account at Wells Fargo.

    “This is making me a snitch, I feel like even though I’m not snitching on nobody wrong, it’s somebody bad,” he said of the shooter.

    Grier goes on to say he’s bipolar before he talks about the actual shooting itself.

    “So I’m leaving out of the thing,” Grier said, pointing toward the Peachtree Center Mall. “So I see the shooter, I guess, you know what I’m saying.”

    He claimed he wanted to attack the shooter, but someone stopped him.

    “My thing is I’m in a manic episode where you’re doing something so extreme and erratic,” he said, adding he’s been off his medication for two weeks.

    Grier said he wasn’t allowed to have a gun and dropped the name of his parole officer.

    Much of the nearly 4-minute video is nonsensical, with reporters trying to ask questions about what he saw.

    Asked if he ran, he said he took off because he didn’t have a gun.

    “One-on-one, I can kill you,” he said.

    He ended the interview by giving his Georgia Department of Corrections ID number.

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