LITHONIA, Ga. —
Police said Hill got the gun from an acquaintance, but it's not clear if he stole it or had permission to take it.
Although no one was injured, the suspect exchanged gunfire with police who surrounded Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy in Decatur, located a few miles east of Atlanta. The school has 870 students in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade.
"We have to make a reasonable assumption he was there to do harm to someone," said DeKalb County Police Chief Cedric L. Alexander.
Dramatic television footage showed lines of young students racing out of the building with police and teachers escorting them to safety. They sat outside in a field for a time until school buses came to take them to their parents at a nearby Wal-Mart.
Hill held one or two staff members in the front office captive for a time, the police chief said, making one of them call a local TV station. At some point, he fired into the floor of the school office. As officers swarmed the campus outside, he shot at them at least a half a dozen times with an assault rifle from inside the school and they returned fire, police said. Police came into the school office, and Hill surrendered.
Hill is charged with aggravated assault on a police officer, terroristic threats and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Police declined to discuss what he told them when questioned.
DeKalb County Police Detective Ray Davis said Hill's motive was unclear. Hill had an address listed in court records about three miles from the school in Decatur, but no clear ties to the school.
School bookkeeper Antoinette Tuff said she was one of the employees held hostage. Tuff told WSB-TV in Atlanta that she tried to keep Hill talking to prevent him from walking into the hallway or through the school building.