A Georgia state trooper was shot and wounded Wednesday morning near the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center, a controversial future law enforcement training site, officials said. The alleged shooter was shot and killed by police.
At approximately 9:00 a.m., during a planned multi-agency operation to remove protesters from the property, which has been nicknamed “Cop City” by protesters, an individual shot at law enforcement without warning, said Michael Register, director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, in a press conference. The officer, who was wearing a bulletproof vest, was hit in the stomach above the pelvic area, officials said. Police returned fire and the alleged shooter was killed, police said.
Police have not released the identity of the shooter.
The trooper was rushed to Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta and immediately taken into surgery, said officials. He is currently in stable condition in the intensive care unit, Col. Chris Wright of the Georgia State Patrol said. The trooper’s identity has not yet been released.
Over the past few months, a handful of protestors have been arrested on charges that include domestic terrorism for allegedly throwing rocks and bottles at law enforcement officers at the site, which is under construction.
“These are not acts of peaceful protest. These are criminal acts to destabilize communities and endanger citizens,” Register said.
The $90 million, 85-acre center, which will include a shooting range, mock city and burn building, among other facilities, will “reimagine law enforcement training and Police/Fire Rescue community engagement,” says the Atlanta Police Foundation, a not-for-profit that helps fund police initiatives through private-public partnerships.
Activist groups such as Defend the Atlanta Forest have since cropped up and are attempting to prevent the facility’s construction. The group said Wednesday on Twitter that police had killed a “forest defender today, someone who loved the forest, someone who fought to protect the earth & its inhabitants.”
Members of the group have occupied trees on the wooded property, building tree sits and other shelters in the forests. In June, the group released a statement that said, “Climate change and police violence are two of the most pressing issues affecting our society today, and they will only worsen if this facility is built. We cannot stand by as we sacrifice humanity’s future for a Cop City.”
For months, police have been sending officers to the site due to the high “threat of safety,” Register said.
In December, five people were arrested and charged with domestic terrorism and other charges after allegedly throwing rocks and bottles at the training center, officials said. For months, protesters have allegedly destroyed property, committed arson and carjackings and thrown rocks, bottles and other items at police, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said.
The DeKalb District Attorney’s Office told CBS News it is pursuing domestic terrorism charges against all five protesters. One of the arrested protesters, Ariel Ebaugh, 22, of Stockbridge, Georgia has been charged with two counts of firearm possession during a commission of a felony, the DA’s office confirmed.
Officials confirmed there is an ongoing and active investigation.