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Suspect accused of shooting 2 DeKalb deputies was killed in exchange of gunfire, sheriff says

Authorities said they found him in the woods.

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — The suspect wanted after two investigators with the DeKalb County Sheriff's Office were shot early Wednesday morning while serving a warrant is now dead, according to deputies.

Sheriff Melody Maddox said Edward Allen Gatling, 38, was found hiding in the woods not far from the initial incident. They were alerted of his whereabouts after a caller informed them of a "suspicious person" being in the area. 

"The Atlanta SWAT along with DeKalb County Police Department SWAT team went to the wood line and caught sight of the individual," she said. "Gunfire was exchanged. The suspect was hit and is deceased at this time."

The sheriff said they tried to perform life-saving efforts at the scene, but he died. No one else was injured in the crossfire, Maddox added.

Gatling was initially wanted on an aggravated assault with the intent to murder warrant that was issued in October. Deputies said the arrest warrant indicated that Gatling was accused of shooting a Lithonia resident several times with "a high-powered rifle" after an altercation at a business on DeKalb Industrial Boulevard. Authorities said he had been wanted since that incident.

Deputies said Wednesday's shooting at the Lithonia residence happened around 7:30 a.m.

"At some point during the endeavor, the suspect fired shots at our fugitive investigators, striking two of our investigators, one in the leg and one in the abdomen area," said Chief Randy Akies with the DeKalb County Sheriff's Office.

Maddox said Gatling fired a weapon. She said their deputies, however, did not fire at him.

"I'm assuming once he saw the officers, [Gatling] decided to brandish his weapon and start firing on the deputies," she added. 

Credit: DeKalb County Sheriff's Office
Edward Allen Gatling

Maddox identified the wounded investigators as Aaron Jackson and Ja'rad Hunt. Both were said to be "conscious and alert" after being taken to DeKalb Medical Center right after the shooting. They were then taken to Grady Hospital.

"They are doing fine," Maddox said in an afternoon update. "One is being prepped, as we speak, for surgery." 

Several agencies helped with the search in the Lithonia area. Several schools were also placed on a "level two lockdown" as authorities searched for the suspect according to the DeKalb County School District.

Credit: WXIA
DeKalb Sheriff Melody Maddox holds up a wanted flier for Edward Gatling.

Before Gatling was found in the woods, the sheriff had a strong message for him.

"Let me be clear, Mr. Gatling. Mr. Edward Gatling, I know you're out there. You will be brought to custody. You will be taken in. We will not tolerate this," Maddox said.

She also thanked Gov. Brian Kemp for calling to check on the law enforcement officers' condition.

RELATED: Police officer, 3 others killed in Clayton County | Here is what we know

The incident is the second in less than 24 hours in which metro Atlanta law enforcement officers have been shot. A Clayton County officer was killed Tuesday night responding to a drive-by shooting in Rex. Maddox sent her condolences to their department as well. 

A heavy law enforcement response to the incident in DeKalb County partially closed Covington Highway Wednesday morning. 

A man on scene, Muneer Pittman, said he lived near the residence where the shooting occurred and was woken up by officers at his door.

"Police came to my house with shotguns, AR-rifles, scared the [expletive] out of me. Knocked on my door, asked me had anybody came in and I said, 'No, nobody been in here,'" Pittman said. "I came outside and I see a thousand cops looking in the woods."

Maddox thanked the numerous agencies who helped with the search.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is now investigating the police shooting.


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