A 22-year-old man was arrested and charged after authorities say he fired a stray bullet that killed a 6-month-old in west Atlanta on Monday – the third time a child has been shot in the city this year.
The incident was at least the second fatal shooting involving a stray bullet in the Atlanta area in nine days.
“I will not cheerlead that we were able to apprehend this person in a short period of time,” Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant said at a news conference. “I am mad as hell that the incident occurred in the first place.”
Dequasie Little was arrested Tuesday in Decatur, just east of Atlanta, the chief said. He has been charged with felony murder and aggravated assault, according to an arrest warrant.
CNN has reached out to Little’s public defender for comment. A date has not yet been set for his next court hearing.
The shooting happened Monday just before 2:40 p.m. at a convenience store roughly 4.5 miles west of downtown, police said on their website.
Little was involved in a high-speed chase with another vehicle when he opened fire, striking and killing 6-month-old Grayson Fleming, who was sitting in a parked car, according to the arrest warrant.
Bryant said authorities were working to “go after others” they believe were involved in the shooting, adding there were “two people involved in gun violence.”
Grayson’s mother, Kerri Gray, posted on Facebook, “God has taken another angel in the worst way possible. At 2:30 this afternoon my son was killed by a drive by shooting. Please pray for me and my family.”
“I’m almost positive that that guy – whatever has happened, whatever was going on his mind – has no idea what wake he left behind,” Gray told CNN affiliate WGCL. “Not only have you taken my son away from me, but you have caused fear for the people who live in this neighborhood.”
At a Tuesday news conference announcing the arrest, Mayor Andre Dickens said Fleming had no connection to Little.
“They were bystanders, had nothing to do with this, innocent,” the mayor said, “and here they are with blood on their clothes.”
A woman who lives nearby said that she and her husband heard gunshots.
“Other neighbors started walking down the street and we were told a baby had gotten shot,” Keona Jones told CNN affiliate WXIA.
“Immediately, my heart, it just began to break,” she said. “We actually both kind of teared up. Here we go again. Another life lost. Another senseless death.”
This was the third shooting of a child younger than 6 – two of whom died – in Atlanta this year, Dickens said.
The first victim, on January 12, was a 1-year-old who was shot by another child who found an unsecured gun in a home in west Atlanta’s Collier Heights neighborhood, police said. The 1-year-old’s mother was arrested on a charge of second-degree murder, police said.
In the second shooting, a 5-year-old vehicle passenger was struck by gunfire as drivers of two other vehicles were shooting at each other on January 19 in south Atlanta, police said. That child survived, Dickens said. Two suspects were arrested at the scene.
Dickens mentioned the shootings of three other children in the last two years in Atlanta, including 8-year-old Secoriea Turner, who was killed in July 2020.
“These children are bearing the brunt and losing their lives because adults are unable to settle their disputes without going to guns,” Dickens said. “I’m demanding that it stop. We’re going to put an end to it. We’re about to work day and night on this, as we have been, but this, this hurts – it’s a 6-month-old child that we’ve lost.”
British scientist killed by stray bullet while visiting metro Atlanta
The 6-month-old was at least the second person to be killed by a stray bullet in the Atlanta area since last week, according to reports from authorities.
Early on January 16, British scientist Matthew Wilson, 31, was shot while he was in an apartment in the northeast Atlanta suburb of Brookhaven, police said.
Brookhaven police said they responded to 911 calls about shots being fired from an apartment complex there. While officers were checking the area, police said they received another call about a man being shot in an apartment.
When officers arrived at the apartment, they found Wilson in bed with a gunshot wound to his head. He was taken to a hospital, where he died, police said.
Wilson, an astrophysicist from Chertsey in Surrey, England, was visiting loved ones when the shooting happened, according to police.
“This incident appears to be a random act involving individuals participating in the reckless discharge of firearm(s) which led to the tragic death” of Wilson, Brookhaven police said in a news release.
No arrests have been made in the case.