Police say they believe they know who shot a 2-year-old outside a DeKalb County Kroger Wednesday.
The suspect’s whereabouts, however, remained a mystery Friday.
Tips from the public via Crime Stoppers led investigators to 21-year-old suspect Chazerel J. Burton, DeKalb County Police Chief Cedric Alexander said Friday. Police have secured criminal warrants against Burton alleging three counts of aggravated assault and one count of criminal damage — all felonies.
According to police, Burton allegedly fired up to 15 gunshots into a car occupied by the 2-year-old victim and his mother. The toddler, shot in the abdomen, remained in stable condition at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston.
It’s likely, Alexander said, that the shooter had an accomplice who drove them away from the chaotic scene at the North Hairston Road supermarket.
The shooting followed a verbal skirmish between Burton and the little boy’s father, who told police he witnessed the suspect steal a chain off someone’s neck outside a Chase Bank branch. Police have not released the names of the child’s parents.
Minutes later, police said, the Good Samaritan spotted Burton in front of the Kroger and got out of his car to try to apprehend the alleged thief.
Burton was able to elude capture then, as well, police said.
Public documents reveal little about the suspect, providing only a Texas mailing address. There are no records of any criminal convictions or jail time served.
If accurate, that may be the most surprising detail yet to emerge in the investigation. How could anyone, particularly someone without a criminal background, commit such a brazen act against a child so young?
“It had to be very clear that the child was in the vehicle and (the suspect) had absolutely no regard for the child or any of those witnesses,” Alexander said.