Midday Shooting Inside Atlanta's CNN Building

Wednesday, April 4th 2007, 7:23 am

By: News On 6

ATLANTA (AP) _ Gunfire inside the CNN Center sent a lunchtime crowd scurrying for cover as a hotel employee was shot dead in a domestic dispute and her former boyfriend was wounded by security.

The man dragged the woman down an escalator following an argument in the lobby of the Omni Hotel, which is part of the downtown CNN complex, and shot her Tuesday, police said.

A CNN security guard witnessed the altercation and shot the man, police said.

``All of a sudden we heard a big boom. We thought it was an explosion,'' said Trina Johnson, 44, of Atlanta, who was with her daughter in the busy food court in the CNN atrium. ``We didn't see the gun. Everybody just started running.''

The Omni employee was identified as Clara Riddles, 22, of College Park, according to Caryn Kboudi, a spokeswoman for the Irving, Texas-based hotel chain. Riddles checked and restocked honor bars in the hotel rooms, she said.

Riddles was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital and pronounced dead on arrival, a hospital spokeswoman said.

The man, identified by police as Arthur Mann, in his late 30s, was in stable condition at the hospital's detention center. He faced a murder charge, Atlanta Police officer James Polite said.

``I heard four or five shots. I really didn't see it. I got out of there quick,'' said Jas Stanford, 27, who had been across the street taking down a temporary stage that was used for college basketball's Final Four festivities.

The NCAA basketball final was played Monday night at the nearby Georgia Dome.

Soon after the shooting, CNN's own coverage of the shooting was being shown on large-screen televisions inside the atrium, near the escalator where the shooting had just taken place.

The security guard, 10-year veteran Odell Adams, saw the couple arguing, and when the man fired his gun, Adams shot the man, said Lisa Tobias, director of corporate responsibility for Turner Broadcasting System, which operates CNN.

The CNN Center is just across the street from Centennial Olympic Park, where a bomb exploded during the 1996 Summer Olympics, killing a woman and wounding more than 100 people.

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