COVINGTON, Ga. - For the first time we’re hearing from one of the other officers that responded to a shoplifting call that ended up with a Covington police officer taking a bullet to the head. The suspected shooter died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot.
Officer Matt Cooper remains in serious condition at Grady Memorial Hospital as doctors try to figure out how to remove the bullet from a major artery in his neck.
Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne spoke with the Covington police chief and several of Cooper’s colleagues as they prepare for a run that will help with the officer’s recovery.
Winne said it was clear that the officers were shaken by the incident.
“Words can’t describe it. It’s just a …it’s just a sickening feeling,” Covington police Lt. Chris Smith said.
- Man in custody after threatening mass shooting at mall
- Florence expected to regain strength; East Coast could see impact this weekend
- Local college cheerleader suing over national anthem protests
“I heard shots fired, officer down and once I heard that, those words you just never want to hear, and it was just very heartbreaking, very …just hard,” said Covington police Officer Stacy Cosby.
Covington police Chief Stacey Cotton told Winne that his department has put on the Fuzz Run to benefit the Covington Police Who Care fund for 35 years.
Planning for the run had been underway for months with no way to know until this week that this year's run would help one of their own: Officer Matt Cooper.
“In the Fuzz Run, I’m going to be leading the race and I am pretty close with Matt, so I’m going to drive his car,” Lt. Gene Nuqui told Winne. “I just wish he was the one driving that car, you know, sitting there beside me.”
“We’re all going to be here working the race for Matt Cooper tomorrow. That’s what tomorrow’s all about,” Smith said.
Cosby said she and Cooper were two of the first three officers to respond to the shoplifting call that ultimately led to the shooting Monday.
“The call came out, another officer, our sergeant was chasing someone, he actually ran out with me to go assist him,” Cosby said.
Cotton told Winne that people had been signing a big card to Cooper throughout the day Monday. He said Cooper has left his signature not only on the department, but also “on this community, on this state and on this country. He defended this country overseas.”
“I’m a 23-year veteran here sir. I’m 44. He’s 31. I look up to this man. That’s the type of person he is,” Officer Pat Womack said about Cooper.
“He is the epitome of what a law enforcement officer should be,” Smith said.
“Everybody here's supporting him and praying for him,” Nuqui said.
Winne said anyone that wants to register for the race can still do so Saturday morning before the race, starting at 6 a.m. The Police Department said they expect about 4,000 people.
© 2019 Cox Media Group.