Suspect Arrested in Fatal Shooting of Off-Duty Georgia Sheriff’s Deputy

Several serendipitous sources led to the arrest of Alton Deshawn Oliver, 26-years-old, for the shooting death of Fulton County, Georgia, sheriff deputy James Thomas. Deputy Thomas was 24 years old. As reported in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “a truck driver’s dashboard camera footage and Atlanta’s network of security cameras helped police identify the suspected gunman who shot and killed Fulton County Sheriff’s Deputy James Thomas.” 

Thomas had been with the sheriff’s office for less than a year after being recruited from the Milledgeville Police Department, Fulton County Sheriff Patrick Labat previously said. 

The background to the killing includes the fact that Deputy Thomas was found dead in the driver’s seat of his wrecked gray Ford Fusion in the 1900 block of Bolton Road around 4:30 a.m. Thursday. Thomas had been “assigned to the detention unit at Grady Memorial Hospital and was at work the night before.” 

Suspect Oliver was arrested Monday. He has been charged him with murder, aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. Deputy Chief Charles Hampton Jr. said during a Tuesday morning news conference that “Oliver was on foot at the time of the shooting.” Speculation is that “some type of argument” ensued, which, as reported, “escalated to the gunfire.” Authorities believe that Thomas and Oliver did not know each other. 

Last week a driver of a van contacted police to report having struck Thomas’ car around the time of the incident. Investigators concluded that the driver of the van was not involved in the shooting. 

The van driver claimed he saw Thomas “driving erratically” in the middle of Bolton Road. He believed he heard “gunfire” when he tried to pass Thomas’ vehicle, according to a statement from Maj. Pete Malecki. The van and Thomas’ vehicle collided. 

The alleged conclusion is that Thomas had been struck by gunfire immediately before crashing into the van. Elaborating on the arrest, Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens said “This is a result of good police work” and praised the police for “bringing those individuals to justice,”  

Dickens added that “This is a preventable death,” and that Atlanta’s gun violence problem is a group project. Dickens claimed that “our lives are intertwined as we are all responsible, really responsible, truly, for each other.” 

Authorities said a truck driver’s dash camera footage and the city’s network of security cameras were instrumental in identifying a suspect. “Thomas was what you would want in a deputy,” Dickens opined.

D & B Staff

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