Arrest made in murder of Fulton County deputy found shot to death inside crashed car

ATLANTA — Atlanta police have made an arrest in the deadly shooting of a Fulton County deputy, and are now giving new insight into what led up to the shooting.

James Thomas, 24, was found shot to death in his crashed car near Bolton Road early Thursday morning.

Jail records show that police arrested Alton Oliver, 26, on felony murder and aggravated assault charges on Monday.

Channel 2 Action News attended a news conference Tuesday where police confirmed the arrest is connected to Thomas’ death.

Channel 2′ Bryan Mims was outside Atlanta Police Headquarters on Tuesday, where he learned that a key piece of evidence helped lead to the suspect.

Police said surveillance cameras helped detectives identify Oliver as the shooter. Investigators said they tracked down Oliver at his workplace Monday. They did not provide a motive.

“Just working, looking at the cameras, they were able to get a lead on a vehicle,” Deputy Police Chief Charles Hampton said. “We know that a co-worker dropped him off.”

Hampton said the suspect was on foot when there was some type of accident that escalated into gunfire. Thomas then crashed the car, police said.

The driver of a van who was involved in the crash said he reported seeing Thomas driving erratically around 4:30 a.m. before he bumped into him.

Thomas’ body was later found inside the crashed car.

Channel 2 Action News was first on the scene when authorities blocked the intersection of Bolton Road and Peyton Road.


Fulton County Sheriff Pat Labat said Thomas had been with the sheriff’s office for less than a year and was part of the Grady Detention Unit. Labat described the 24-year-old deputy from Mississippi as “the life of the party.”

“He was an outstanding young man. We personally recruited him from another police department down south specifically because of the energy and his love for what he brought to our agency,” Labat said.

Labat said the family now needs time to heal.

“As you can imagine, we’re grieving with the family,” Labat said. “But we are also wrapping our arms around the family, loving and supporting him.”

Oliver is scheduled to make his first appearance on Tuesday morning, according to Fulton County court records.

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