Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Members from the Gwinnett County Sheriff's Swat Team secure the scene at Wood Chase Apartment Complex in Norcross on Wednesday. Police got a call at 9:37 a.m. about a woman being assaulted by Larry Davis. The victim and Davis have been transported to the hospital.
SWAT standoff at Norcross apartment complex
Press briefing after a man attacked and injured a woman he didn’t know, triggering a two-hour SWAT standoff at a Norcross apartment complex Wednesday, March 28, 2012.
NORCROSS — Authorities are trying to determine if an Ohio man who allegedly attacked a woman at knife-point, triggering a two-hour SWAT standoff Wednesday morning, is the prowler who has tried since January to entice or capture children and teens across southern Gwinnett.
Norcross police said Larry Anthony Davis, 25, posed as maintenance at the Woodchase apartments, knocked on the 41-year-old victim’s door and then attacked her, brandishing a knife with brass knuckles in the handle.
At 9:37 a.m., police received a call of a person screaming at the complex, tucked into a woodsy area off Brook Hollow Parkway. A Norcross officer on another call at the complex responded, reportedly finding Davis coming out of the apartment and wielding the knife with blood on his T-shirt. The victim darted out behind Davis, carrying what neighbors described as scissors in her hand.
The officer backed Davis into the apartment, where he locked the door and refused to come out, forcing police to evacuate neighboring apartments, officials said.
About two hours later, Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Department SWAT members fired gas canisters into the unit, and Davis surrendered without incident, Norcross police Chief Warren Summers said.
“This could have ended much, much worse,” he said.
The victim and Davis were hospitalized. The chief said Davis’s mental health could be deteriorated, and his involvement in other crimes is under investigation, including a possible link to attempted child abductions and a rape in the general area.
Investigators were interviewing the victim at a hospital Wednesday to determine the extent of the attack. Summers said the woman had injuries to her face, which he called “stranger-to-stranger” in nature.
Neighbor David Venegas, whose apartment shares a wall with the unit in question, said he saw the victim run from the apartment with scissors in her hand, her face bloodied.
“I heard her say, ‘Help me, help me,’ and she just kept crying,” Venegas said.
Similarities in four separate attempts to entice or capture kids in Gwinnett since January have led Gwinnett police to believe the same man could be behind them, officials said this week. Victims have ranged in age from 8 to 13 years old.
“Our investigators are looking into (a connection) as we speak,” Gwinnett police spokesman Cpl. Edwin Ritter said Wednesday afternoon.
In three cases, the perpetrator was said to be driving a gold passenger car. In two cases, victims said he wore a black mask. The incidents spanned from Jan. 31 to March 13.
Summers said investigators found evidence that Davis may have been staying in woods near the apartments. Among his confiscated belongings was a black ski mask, the chief said.
At the scene, Summers said police were searching for a gold car. Another Norcross police official said Wednesday evening that no car was recovered.
Davis is charged with aggravated sexual battery, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and weapons possession during the commission of a felony.
Gwinnett County Jail records indicate Davis is also wanted by an agency in Ohio.
Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction records show a man whose name matches Davis’s is wanted there for violating the conditions of his parole, after serving three years for failing to report an address change.
That man was released from prison in southern Ohio around Jan. 31 — the day the first victim, a 13-year-old girl near Norcross, told police a bald black man driving a gold sedan flung open his car door, took a photo of her and drove off. An official with the Ohio prison system’s fugitive unit could not be reached to confirm the connection late Wednesday.
Negotiators were able to develop a rapport with Davis, but he initially refused to surrender, Summers said. The gathering of armed SWAT members and a mobile command center made for tense moments for residents, who clustered around the three-story apartment buildings and jockeyed for better views as the firing of gas canisters thumped down the street.
“All I know is I woke up to the cops banging on our door, telling us to evacuate,” said neighbor John Mixon. “They evacuated two full buildings.”
Wood Chase Apartment Complex
Wood Chase Apartment Complex