ATLANTA – Relatives of a tourist shot at Lenox Square said the robbers pointed a gun at the woman’s 2-year-old son and demanded jewelry.
Jenna White, who is from South Carolina, was visiting Atlanta with her boyfriend and her 2-year-old son Wednesday. According to investigators, two men approached them as they got into their car.
Police believe two suspects targeted them because they had been seen inside of a jewelry store at the mall.
White's stepfather told 11Alive’s Ryan Kruger that White stepped to fight the suspects after they put a gun to the child’s head. She was shot once in the stomach.
The two attackers ran away, and the man inside the car began driving the woman to Piedmont Hospital, almost getting there before having to pull over at Benihana Restaurant near the hospital.
White was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital with five life-threatening injuries from the bullet. Her family said on Thursday that she was in stable condition, but that she had a long road to recovery. The victim's stepfather said doctors believe it could take 4 to 6 weeks until she is able to leave.
Atlanta Police Chief George Turner says investigators are still going through surveillance video.
“I feel confident that the evidence that we're gathering we'll be able to identify those individuals,” Turner said.
Turner says APD and Lenox Square have worked together to increase security for shoppers.
“Their cameras are fully integrated into our network in the video integration center,” Turner said. “We've asked that they upgrade some of the cameras they have on the exterior of the property.”
Security expert Jeff Bohling said crooks often target people at malls.
“You see a lot of people have distractions, they're on their cell phone, they're looking down,” Bohling said. “Put your cell phone in your pocket or in your purse, have your keys out, just in case you need to use them as a weapon, and just continue to surveil the area and make sure you're not being followed.”
Mayor Kasim Reed spoke about the shooting Thursday. He said keeping citizens and tourists safe is his top priority.
“We are going to have a meeting today about doing an analysis of our malls, not just in Buckhead but across the city's footprint, and putting more resources and more visibility into those. We'll also make sure our mall partners have the assets that are compatible with us,” Reed said.
Investigators said the couple got a good look at the suspects who attacked them. Police said they hoped to release a detailed description and possibly video of the two attackers as soon as possible.