Community praying for officer shot by suspect outside Walmart

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A Covington police officer is in the hospital fighting for his life after a shooting outside a Walmart on Labor Day. 

Covington Police identified the wounded officer as 34-year-old Matt Cooper, a six-year veteran of the force. On Tuesday morning, police said on Facebook that Cooper is still listed in serious condition and will be evaluated again by a vascular surgeon to prepare for a procedure to remove a bullet lodged at his carotid artery. 

"His vital signs are strong. Matt Cooper is strong! He is a fighter!" the Covington Police Department said. "Please continue to pray for the Cooper family." 

Cooper was shot outside the Walmart on Industrial Boulevard Monday afternoon. 

Captain Ken Malcolm said officers responded to a shoplifting call at around 12:30 p.m.

“There is no such thing as a routine, simple call," said Capt. Malcolm.  

Officers quickly took two of three shoplifting suspects into custody, but the third, identified as 21-year-old Aaron Demonta Fleming, ran across the street and behind a nearby building.  

According to police, Cooper and another officer split up to try to capture Fleming. When the officer rounded the corner, he found Cooper lying unconscious with a gunshot wound to the head.

A short time later, police said they found Fleming dead in some nearby woods.  

According to the GBI news release, early information indicates Fleming died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Medics airlifted Cooper to Atlanta Medical Center.

Police Captain Wendell Wagstaff described Cooper as “a good family man with two small children." He is a military veteran who served tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan.  

The GBI will turn over the results of its investigation to the Alcovy Judicial Circuit for review once it’s completed.