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Man charged after allegedly entering Atlanta Publix with six loaded guns and body armor

A man was arrested Wednesday after entering a Publix supermarket in Atlanta carrying six loaded firearms and wearing body armor, police said. The man, who Atlanta police have identified as 22-year-old Rico Marley, was charged Thursday with five counts of criminal attempt to commit a felony and six counts of possession of a firearm during commission of or attempt to commit certain felonies. 

Police did not provide specific evidence that Marley planned to carry out a shooting at the store that day. But the incident occurred in the wake of two mass shootings that have shaken the nation and prompted widespread calls for gun reform: the shooting at a supermarket in Boulder, Colorado, that killed 10 people, and a series of shootings at three Atlanta-area spas that killed eight.

On Thursday, police released a photo of the weapons Marley was allegedly carrying when he was arrested. 

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Police said they found these guns on the person of the man who was armed inside an Atlanta Publix on March 24: a Taurus G3C 9x19mm pistol, a Mossberg MC2C 9x19mm, a Glock 43 9x19mm, a Taurus 856 .38 special revolver, a DPMS AR-15 style rifle, and a Maverick Arms Modell 88 12 gauge shotgun. Atlanta Police Department

Atlanta police said Wednesday that a preliminary investigation revealed that Marley entered the store Wednesday afternoon openly carrying a rifle and entered a bathroom. A witness noticed him and alerted a store manager, who then called police. Police said they responded to the incident shortly after 1:30 p.m. and "immediately detained" Marley when he exited the bathroom. Emergency medical responders also arrived at the scene to conduct a mental health evaluation. 

Marley was carrying an AR-15 style rifle and a 12-gauge shotgun in a bag, and four handguns under his clothing, according to an incident report released Thursday by Atlanta police. All six of the firearms were loaded, and Marley was wearing body armor and had a ski mask when he was detained, the report said. Police did not report any injuries or any shots fired. 

The individual who reported Marley to the Publix manager told police that "he heard clicking sounds from the bathroom stall" in the store and that "it sounded to him like someone was loading firearms," according to the incident report. He also claimed to see an AR-15 style rifle "leaned against the wall." 

Publix said in a statement that its Atlantic Station location is cooperating with law enforcement on the investigation. 

"We are thankful that there were no injuries, and all were able to exit the store safely," Publix said. "The store is currently closed. Additional questions should be directed to the Atlanta Police Department."

Later Wednesday, Atlantic Station — the upscale commercial area where the Publix is located — said it was shutting down while authorities investigated a suspicious package found onsite. It is not clear if the package is linked to the earlier incident. 

"We are closely monitoring the situation alongside APD, and we will reopen as soon as possible," an Atlantic Station spokesperson tweeted on Wednesday evening. "The safety of the Atlantic Station community is of utmost importance." 

Firearm licenses in Georgia allow people to "legally carry a concealed firearm" in the state, according to the state's website. It is not clear if Marley had a license — but in 2019, Publix joined a growing list of retailers that asked customers not to carry weapons inside their stores even if it was legally permitted in the state.

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