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Warrants issued in Waffle House slaying

CONYERS - Arrest warrants have been issued for a DeKalb County teenager local authorities believe shot and killed a man in May outside Waffle House on Salem Road.

According to a news release from the Rockdale County Sheriff's Office, Charles Octavius McGruder, also known as "Tay" and "Big Boy," has been the subject of a manhunt by the sheriff's office and the Metro Fugitive Squad. Warrants have been issued for McGruder for murder, two counts of aggravated assault, criminal attempt to commit armed robbery and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.

Investigators believe McGruder, 18, is living in DeKalb County around the Glenwood and McAfee areas, but could be in North Carolina. McGruder is described as being a light-skinned black man, approximately 5 feet, 6 inches tall and weighing 220 pounds. The man has some light facial hair and a tattoo with the name "Sandra" on one side of his neck.

RCSO investigators believe McGruder shot and killed 34-year-old James Johnson of Leesville, S.C., about 3:30 a.m. on May 20 while Johnson was sitting in an SUV in the parking lot of the restaurant.

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.

"We do not believe there was any relationship between the victim and Octavius," said Sgt. Jodi Shupe, spokeswoman for the sheriff's office. "We believe it was simply a situation where Mr. Johnson was in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Johnson and a friend apparently stopped in Conyers for dinner on their way to Atlanta. He was married with five children.

Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of McGruder is asked to call RCSO Investigator Amanda Pilgrim at 770-761-3084 or Sheriff Jeff Wigington at 678-858-6064. Information provided to the sheriff's office may be kept anonymous, Shupe said.

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