A man shot by a DeKalb County deputy Wednesday afternoon in a Lithonia church parking lot is suspected of killing a toddler.
The shooting occurred when he confronted law officers who had been following him.
Deputies had been pursuing Nicholas Clarence Wade on a murder warrant, according to Lt. Kyle Jones with the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office. Wade is accused of killing an 18-month-old girl, authorities said.
Deputies in unmarked cars had begun following the BMW SUV in which Wade was a passenger around 2 p.m. near the Wal-Mart store on Fairington Road near Lithonia. DeKalb County Sheriff Thomas Brown said Wade was riding with two females; one driving, the other in the back seat.
When the SUV pulled into the vast parking lot of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, Wade pointed a sawed-off shotgun at himself, then at a deputy, prompting another deputy to shoot him, Brown said. The deputies were not injured.
Wade was shot once in the leg, once in the face, and once in the neck, Brown said, and was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital in stable condition.
Brown said deputies with the fugitive task force were prepared to “take down” Wade outside the busy Wal-Mart, before Wade’s vehicle turned toward the New Birth parking lot, which is the size of several football fields and was mostly empty.
“When he turned into the compound, that was a game changer for him,” Brown said. “This is a pretty isolated area.”
A spokesman for the church said the “shooting is completely unrelated to New Birth.”
Donice Edwards, who provides transportation to students at the church’s school, saw it happen. “I was behind the car that they were looking for. We just stopped, and they surrounded the car,” she said.
While she saw deputies swarm the SUV, Edwards said she couldn’t make out who was shot.
“I did hear the gunshots,” Edwards said. “And I saw after that, they grabbed two females.”
“It was scary because at the time, I had my 3-year-old son in the car with me,” she said. “And it was so close.”