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Suspect in Waffle House murder arrested

CONYERS - The suspect accused of murdering a South Carolina man outside a Salem Road Waffle House in May has been arrested.

According to the inmate arrest report from the Rockdale County Sheriff's Office, Charles Octavius McGruder, 18, of 2815 Mitchell Drive in Decatur, was arrested around 10 p.m. Friday. He was charged with murder, two counts of aggravated assault, criminal attempt and possession of a firearm or knife during a crime.

Sheriff Jeff Wigington said the RCSO had enlisted the assistance of the U.S.Marshals Office to help locate McGruder.

"U.S. Marshals picked him up at his father's apartment in Cobb County," Wigington said Tuesday. "We turned it over to the Marshal's Office because we thought he could have left the state."

The RCSO issued warrants for McGruder about 10 days after the May 20 murder of 34-year-old James Johnson, and he has been the subject of a manhunt by the Sheriff's Office and the Metro Fugitive Squad ever since.

According to a press release in June from the RCSO, McGruder was also known as "Tay" and "Big Boy."

Johnson, of Leesville, S.C., and a friend stopped in Conyers for dinner at Waffle House on their way to Atlanta. Johnson was reportedly sitting in an SUV in the parking lot of the restaurant around 3:30 a.m. when McGruder allegedly walked over to the SUV where Johnson was sitting and fired a weapon.

Surveillance footage from the scene shows a man authorities now believe is McGruder running alongside a Pontiac Grand Prix and entering the left rear door. The car was seen driving south on Salem Road toward Newton County.

The Grand Prix was later recovered in DeKalb County and is believed to have been taken in a carjacking a few hours prior to the shooting.

Wigington said investigators do not believe any relationship existed between Johnson and the suspect and that Johnson, the married father of five children, was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The sheriff said the investigation is continuing and he anticipates more arrests will be made.

Aimee Jones can be reached at aimee.jones@rockdalecitizen.com.