Suspect in toddler’s death shot at New Birth

A man suspected of killing his girlfriend’s toddler was shot by a DeKalb County deputy Wednesday afternoon in the parking lot of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia.

According to Lt. Kyle Jones with the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office, deputies were pursuing Nicholas Clarence Wade on a murder warrant.

“They were able to track the subject to this church,” he told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Wade, 27, of Lithonia, is accused of killing an 18-month-old boy Monday, according to a police report.

Wade’s girlfriend, Jillian Belk, told police she left her son, Keon Belk, with Wade shortly after 5 a.m. Monday, the police report states. Wade later called his girlfriend from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston with the toddler, according to police.

Wade told Belk the child was having difficulty breathing, so he called 911. The boy was in cardiac arrest when paramedics arrived, the police report states. The toddler, who later died, had a cracked liver and fractured skull, according to police.

On Wednesday, Wade, who was armed with a sawed-off shotgun, pointed the gun at himself then at the deputy, prompting another deputy to shoot him, DeKalb County Sheriff Thomas Brown said. The deputies were not injured.

A spokesman for the church said the “shooting is completely unrelated to New Birth.”

“The deputies chased the suspect onto church property where the shooting occurred,” Art Franklin told Channel 2 Action News. “The suspect has no affiliation to the church.”

Wade was shot three times, once in the leg, once in the face, and once in the neck, Brown said. He was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital in stable condition, he said.

Brown said Wade was riding in the vehicle with two females — one driving, and the other a passenger in the back seat.

Around 2 p.m., a number of unmarked law enforcement cars began following the BMW SUV that Wade was travelling in near the Walmart on Fairington Road near Lithonia.

Brown said deputies with the fugitive task force were prepared to “take down” Wade outside the busy Walmart, but the circumstances improved when Wade’s vehicle turned toward the massive — the size of several football fields — and mostly empty parking lot of New Birth.

“When he turned into the compound, that was a game changer for him,” Brown said. “This is a pretty isolated area.”

Donice Edwards, who provides transportation to students at the church’s school, was at New Birth when the shooting occurred, she said.

“I was behind the car that they were looking for,” Edwards said of the SUV carrying Wade. “We just stopped, and they surrounded the car.”

While she saw deputies swarm the SUV, Edwards said she couldn’t make out just 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,” Edwards said. “And it was so close.”

Wade will be treated for his injuries then moved from the hospital to the DeKalb County jail.

Parents were allowed to pick up their children from church’s school without incident.

—Staff writer Alexis Stevens contributed to this report.