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Friday, July 30, 1999 Published at 09:17 GMT 10:17 UK


World: Americas

Atlanta shootings: US press

Atlanta police removed three bodies from Mark Barton's home

Newspapers across the United States are carrying front-page stories on the multiple shootings in Atlanta.

Not surprisingly, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has the most in-depth coverage, with several articles by staff reporters examining every aspect of the killings.

Murder in Atlanta
"I looked into his eyes," an eye-witness is quoted as saying, when Mark Barton shot at her "from no farther than 10 feet".

"He was very calm, very determined. No feeling," the woman said.

She survived, having "felt the wind of the bullet passing her forehead ... It struck her computer terminal and he turned to shoot at someone else".

The paper - which reported in 1994 that Barton had taken out a $600,000 life insurance policy on his wife shortly before her death - quotes Atlanta police as saying they had found a list in Barton's apartment "that indicated he intended to kill at least three more people".

In the nation's capital, the Washington Post quotes Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell following "the latest in a series of shootings that have shocked Americans".

"These are unspeakable tragedies," said Mr Campbell, who held two televised news conferences to report latest developments.

Profiling the killer, USA Today describes Barton as an "average neighbor with a dark past".

"To neighbours on his cul-de-sac, Barton seemed like a regular guy," the paper says.

"That's what makes this so weird," a neighbour is quoted as saying; "I'd have trusted my kids with him."

But other neighbours were aware of suspicions "about a dark spot in Barton's past".

"But no-one ever said anything about it," another neighbour is quoted as saying; "we figured they questioned him because they always question the husband - eventually, we just forgot about it."

While noting that Atlanta was one of several cities to sue gun manufacturers, the Los Angeles Times recalls that "the state legislature and the governor - heavily lobbied by the National Rifle Association (NRA) - swiftly passed a law prohibiting such suits".

The paper, quoting from the NRA web-site, adds that "Georgia law requires no state permit to buy or own a gun, but does require a permit to carry a concealed weapon".

The Boston Globe carries a timely report: "Efforts to fashion a gun-control compromise inch forward in Congress".

The paper quotes Senator Bob Smith - an independent who left the Republican Party this month - as comparing gun-control supporters in the Senate to "agents of Fidel Castro's government in Cuba, who went door-to-door confiscating guns after they gained power".

''It is interesting,'' Smith said: ''Tyrannical governments taking our guns, members of the Senate and the media taking our guns.''



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