COVINGTON, Ga. - Covington police say one of their officers is fighting for his life after being shot by a shoplifting suspect near a Walmart.
Investigators said they were called out to the store along Industrial Boulevard just before 12:30 p.m. Monday for a shoplifting call. The GBI says three men were attempting to steal bandanas.
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Officers arrested two suspects, described as young men, but a third, identified as Aaron Fleming, 21, ran.
Stay with Channel 2 Action News for continuing coverage on Channel 2 Action News as Officer Cooper receives treatment for his injuries in the hospital.
A Covington police sergeant and Officer Matt Cooper chased Fleming across the street and behind another shopping center.
As the sergeant turned the corner, he said he saw Fleming shoot Cooper and then take off into the woods behind the store.
BREAKING: Covington Police identify officer shot by shoplifting suspect as 34 year old Officer Matt Cooper. Six year veteran of the department @wsbtv— Aaron Diamant (@AaronDiamantWSB) September 3, 2018
Police said that sergeant later heard a single gunshot inside the woods, went to investigate and found Fleming dead from a gunshot wound. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation says the gunshot was likely self-inflicted.
Fleming's brother showed up to the scene to try and get answers from the GBI about how Fleming died.
A helicopter flew Cooper to Atlanta Medical Center, where he’s listed in serious condition.
“It’s very heavy on all of our hearts. We’re praying just like we’re going to ask everyone out who’s viewing this, please pray for our officer, please pray for his health and that he can pull through OK,” said Capt. Ken Malcom, of the Covington Police Department.
Malcom told Channel 2 investigative reporter Aaron Diamant this is the first time a police officer has been shot in Covington during his 33 years with the department.
Channel 2 Action News first broke into programming to tell you about the incident shortly after 1 p.m. Monday as soon as we confirmed the details of the shooting.
We immediately sent multiple reporters and photographers to the scene.
When Channel 2’s Michael Seiden arrived at the Walmart, he found the parking lot filled with police cruisers from several area police departments, as well as the Georgia State Patrol and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
He said investigators appeared to be concentrating on an SUV that a witness said belonged to the suspects.
Diamant was not far behind. He went to the location behind a nearby shopping center, where the shooting took place.
A source told Diamant that Cooper was shot in the head. Malcom would not confirm those details but said Cooper is stable.
Cooper, 34, is a father of two, a military veteran and a six-year veteran of the department.
The department says his family is by his side at the hospital.
"This is something we all pray every day will never happen, but here we are," Malcom said.
The GBI is leading the investigation into the shooting.
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