By John Schaffner

Buckhead nights were shattered with gunshots twice in one week, leaving one man dead in a parking lot outside a hotel on Nov. 10  and two others to the hospital with wounds they received outside a restaurant Nov. 12.

The first victim was 31-year-old Stephen B. Pierce , of Fairmount, Ga., who was shot in the parking lot of the Residence Inn Marriott, 2690 Piedmont Road, where he was staying.

The second incident took place in a parking lot outside of Justin’s restaurant, in the 2200 block of Peachtree Road, and sent two men to the hospital with gunshot wounds.

Shortly after 8 p.m. on Nov. 10, police believe, Pierce and his attackers exchanged as many as 10 gunshots in the parking lot and Pierce was hit. He collapsed in the Residence Inn parking lot and died of his injuries, police said.

Observers claim the suspects left the scene in a black BMW X5 SUV and black Ford SUV with a broken windshield. Zone 2 Atlanta Police officers are searching for them.

No motive has been established or the shooting.

According to reports provided by Sgt. Curtis Davenport of the APD’s public affairs office, Atlanta homicide investigators “have uncovered significant leads” in the case.

“Pierce has a history of selling illegal narcotics and investigators have reason to believe Mr. Pierce was involved in some form of illicit activity on the night of his murder,” the reports said.

At approximately 10 p.m. on Nov. 12, Zone 2 police responded to a report of a person having been shot at Justin’s restaurant.

According to the police report based on information from one of the victims, the two shooting victims and a third friend were sitting in a black Chevrolet SUV listening to music when a black male with a gun jumped into the vehicle and yelled “You know what time this is?”

One of the victims, Lawrence Jackson, told police he tried to push the gun away and escape the vehicle when the suspect started shooting. He was struck, but was able to run to his own vehicle and drove to Piedmont Hospital.

Leroy Austin, the second victim hit by gunfire, was transported to the hospital by ambulance. Both victims were in stable condition with multiple gunshot wounds on Nov. 15.

The suspect fled the scene in an automobile, according to witness reports.  Police reported that there was no relationship to Justin’s restaurant by either of the victims, either as employees or as patrons.

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Joe Earle

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.