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Trooper shot in clearing operation at future police training site undergoes second surgery, remains in ICU

Georgia Department of Public Safety Commissioner Col. Chris Wright said he has a long road ahead.

ATLANTA — The Georgia State Patrol trooper who was shot Wednesday during a clearing operation at the site of a future Atlanta public safety training facility underwent a second surgery on Thursday and remains in the ICU.

11Alive's Tracey Amick-Peer learned Thursday afternoon he had been able to write a short note overnight that he was having difficulty breathing. Georgia Department of Public Safety Commissioner Col. Chris Wright said he has a long road ahead.

"It was a big lump in your throat," the commissioner said the day after the incident at the site, which has been occupied for months by a protest group looking to halt construction on the training facility; protesters refer to the area as "Cop City."

RELATED: 7 face domestic terrorism charges following deadly 'Cop City' clash

According to the GBI, law enforcement officers conducting the clearing found an individual in a tent and asked the person to leave, before that person shot at the trooper. The officers on scene returned fire, killing the individual, the bureau said. That person was later identified by GBI as 26-year-old Manuel Esteban Paez Teran.

GSP said in a statement Thursday they will not be naming the trooper "because disclosure would compromise security against criminal or terroristic acts due to retaliation."

Meanwhile, law enforcement agencies in metro Atlanta are on high alert after the shootings, with at least one Twitter account getting suspended after calling for "reciprocal violence" and a "night of rage" against police in response to the protester's death.

APD dispatchers played a message warning officers about potential retaliation at regular intervals overnight.

"Please standby for a situational awareness: Due to recent events there have been threats against Officer Safety in the metro Atlanta area, from the Stop Cop City and Defend The Forest Groups. Please be alert and aware of your surroundings, government buildings and anyone who displays representation of either group. If you make contact with anyone who claims to be a member of either group, please notify the Atlanta Police Homeland Security Unit Immediately."

GBI Director Mike Register said Wednesday that, "There's a difference between protests and what's happening there," adding "we're dealing not with protesters but with criminals." 

On Thursday, he said the clearing operations had removed many of the tree-sitting protesters, but that there could still be more.

"The hope was that they cleared out yesterday, but I do know they still have activity out there because there is still a law enforcement presence there," Register said.

He estimated the total property site for the future training facility is 300 acres, and securing the entirety of it while facing resistance is going to continue to be difficult.

"We're working with our local partners, our federal partners and other state partners to fully investigate the activities in the area there," he said.

Seven people have been arrested from the latest operations so far, all of them charged with domestic terrorism and several also charged with aggravated assault. That follows on seven similar arrests made after clearing operations last month that also included domestic terrorism charges. Most of the earlier defendants have been released on bond, but are not to return to the site or have any more contact with the protest movement.

Law enforcement were back at the site on Thursday, Register said.

The GBI director also said plans for fully clearing out the encampments and completely securing the training facility site will be further discussed at a meeting next week.


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