‘They just rolled up on him:’ Witnesses say Fulton deputy shot to death was ambushed

ATLANTA — The Fulton County Sheriff’s Office has named Deputy James Thomas as the man found shot to death in a crashed car on Thursday morning.

Fulton County Sheriff Pat Labat said in a news conference Thursday afternoon that Deputy Thomas was off duty and in his personal vehicle when he was shot.

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.”

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“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.


Channel 2′s Steve Gehlbach was first on the scene Thursday on Channel 2 Action News This Morning when authorities were blocking the intersection of Bolton Road and Peyton Road.

Police told Gehlbach that someone crashed into the deputy’s car at some point during the incident and then drove away. And just after 4:30 a.m., officers responded to a shooting at the intersection.

Investigators said it is unclear who shot Thomas and it is unclear if the shooting happened before or after the crash.

Investigators said someone came forward and reported being involved in a car crash with the deputy, but they do not believe that person had anything to do with the shooting.

“We don’t know if the shooter was a pedestrian or if he was in a vehicle,” Labat said.

Police are still searching for the shooter.

Crime Stoppers of Greater Atlanta has increased the reward amount to $30,000 for information in the deputy’s death.

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