ATLANTA — A man was fatally shot by police after a 9-year-old boy was killed with an ax in a bizarre attack as other children played nearby, authorities said Tuesday.

Police said the man they killed, Santos Cabrera, 22, of Sandy Springs, has a criminal record, though they were unsure if he was the same person who killed the boy.

“It was something that was very strange,” said Cpl. Gary Syblis, a Fulton County police spokesman.

The boy, Jordan Paulder, was playing with two other children outside an apartment complex when a car pulled up around 8:20 p.m. Monday.

According to a police report, the boy called out to the people in the car to say that something was wrong with one of the vehicle’s wheels. One of the occupants of the car then made an obscene gesture, the report says.

When the boy tried to tell the people in the car he was just trying to help them out, a man got out of the car and struck him in the face with an ax, the report says. The boy’s playmates ran off to call for help.

When police arrived, an officer approached a man who was acting suspiciously. But the man ran across the street to an apartment complex, Syblis said.

The man threw a tire at the officer, fracturing the officer’s arm, Syblis said. The man then came at the officer, swinging a piece of metal.

That’s when the officer opened fire, shooting the suspect three times, Syblis said.

The man died at a hospital. Because of the nature of his injury, the boy was taken to the hospital with the ax still protruding from his face, according to police. He died about an hour later, according to the police report, which identified the boy.

Syblis, in several phone conversations with The Associated Press, indicated that the man killed by police was the same man who killed the boy. But Lt. Dexter White, another police spokesman, said authorities were unsure and they were still investigating.

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