(ATLANTA) -- An officer is in the hospital and the man who shot him has been killed following a confrontation Wednesday in a wooded area near where a police training center is set to be built, police said.
The incident occurred at approximately 9 a.m. in a wooded area just outside of Atlanta, Georgia, at the site of a proposed law enforcement training center.
“As law enforcement was moving through the property, officers located a man inside a tent in the woods,” the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) said in a statement following the incident. “Officers gave verbal commands to the man who did not comply and shot a Georgia State Patrol Trooper.”
Police returned fire on the man -- who died on scene -- and the injured Georgia State Patrol Trooper who was hit in the shooting was evacuated to a safe area before being taken to hospital where he underwent surgery for injuries suffered during the incident.
Activists who are protesting the 85 acre and $90 million construction project -- nicknamed “Cop City” -- have been camping out on the site for months in an attempt to cease progress on the development.
In December, five people were arrested and charged with domestic terrorism and other charges following a joint operation at the planned construction site.
Authorities said there are a litany of crimes being committed at the protest site following the five arrests last month.
“Some of the criminal activities include carjacking, various crimes against persons, destruction of property, arson, and attacks against public safety officials,” said the GBI. “Law enforcement continues to address the criminal acts committed by the individuals that continue to occupy the area of the proposed training site.”
The GBI even said that protesters threw rocks at police cars and attacked EMTs outside nearby fire stations with rocks and bottles in December.
A handgun and shell casings were located at the scene of the latest incident on Wednesday and the investigation into what happened is still active and ongoing, said the GBI.
Several other people were arrested and taken to the DeKalb County Jail after Wednesday’s shootout though the GBI did not confirm how many were taken into custody or confirm their identities. Charges against the individuals are now pending and the GBI said updates will be provided at a later time.
Meanwhile, the identity of the protester who was shot and killed by police is currently pending while his next of kin is notified.
A tweet published by the “Defend the Atlanta Forest” movement blamed the police for the shooting, saying “police killed a forest defender today, someone who loved the forest, someone who fought to protect the earth & its inhabitants.”
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp also acknowledged the shooting in a tweet and said that his “thoughts remain with [the injured trooper] and his family, our resolve also remains steadfast and strong to see criminals brought to justice.”
Protesters say that, if constructed as planned, the police training center will only further militarize law enforcement and that the conflict between the protesters and authorities has been escalating in recent months.
“What is taking place is a classic example of tyrannical government overreach,” activists said in a statement published by the Atlanta Community Press Collective. “The public has a right to defend its interests. We are advocates of a free and peaceful society built on cooperation and mutual understanding. The government is escalating this situation pointlessly.”
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