DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - A newly released photograph of a gun is the weapon state investigators say was used by a protester camped near the so-called "Cop City" training facility site to shoot a Georgia State Patrol trooper on Wednesday. That protester was shot and killed by other officers on a task force assigned to sweep and clear the woods.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation says 26-year-old Manuel Esteban Paez Teran was the person who pulled the trigger of that gun. Investigators say a forensic ballistic analysis confirms the remains of the bullet pulled from the trooper’s body during surgery on Wednesday afternoon was fired from the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9mm recovered at the scene.
The GBI says Teran opened fire after failing to comply with commands from members of the joint task force during the "clearing operation" and that he had fired first. Other law enforcement officers at the scene then returned fire, killing Teran.
Manuel Esteban Paez Teran (Provided to FOX 5)
The injured trooper, whose name has not been released, was shot in the "pelvic-area" and he was wearing a bullet-proof vest. Fellow officers were able to pull him from the woods and medics rushed him to Grady Memorial Hospital. He remains hospitalized as of Friday evening, recovering from his wound.
The Georgia State Patrol, as a rule, does not have body-worn cameras recording encounters, only dash cams. The exception for troopers in Jekyll Island and at the Georgia Capitol.
Mourners gather at the former site of Intrenchment Creek Park near the future Atlanta Public Safety Training Center for a candlelight vigil in honor of a protester killed earlier in the week on Jan. 20, 2023. (Billy Heath / FOX 5)
Friday evening, a quiet memorial was held near the former site of Intrenchment Creek Park. It is on the southeast side of a more than 550-acre property owned by the city of Atlanta, DeKalb County, and Blackhall Studios.
Dozens of people attended Friday evening's service for Teran, who friends called Tortuguita.
"It feels so frustrating because none of this needed to happen," said Rachel. "People can work together, and look for a solution that actually helps community, and that isn’t what’s been happening, and that’s how the violence could have been prevented."
Those who attended lit candled, sang songs, and prayed.
"I wanted to be with other people who are feeling the same way for the same reasons," said Rachel.
Atlanta owns 380 acres of that land, which was the site of the former Atlanta Prison Farm. The city wants to lease the Atlanta Police Foundation 85 of those acres, so the future Atlanta Public Safety Training Center can be built and operated. The remainder of the land would be kept as greenspace, with a portion being turned into a park and nature trails.
DeKalb County owns another 125-acres of that land which will be where the former Intrenchment Creek Park, which is also the trailhead to the 10-mile western segment of the South River greenway trail, will be relocated, along with the trail. It will also be the future site of Michelle Obama Park.
Just over 88 acres was acquired by Blackhall Studios from DeKalb County through a three-to-one land-swap deal.
Development of the area has been delayed due to protesters who oppose the building of a police training facility. Encounters between construction workers, property owners, police and even firefighters have turned violent in the past, with some of those incidents being caught on camera.
Protesters have also been blamed for vandalism in nearby neighborhoods including a security camera.
Businesses associated with the development of the training facility have also been the target of protests. The offices of the design firm in Atlanta have been targeted more than once, as has the company’s parent office in Birmingham.
Geoffrey Parsons, 20, of Maryland, was arrested and charged with domestic terrorism and criminal trespass after a raid on the so-called "Cop City" Atlanta Police Department training facility on Jan. 18, 2023. (DeKalb County Sheriffs Office)
About five dozen people, an overwhelming majority from out-of-state, have been taken into custody at the site since the training facility was approved by the Atlanta City Council in October 2021.
Seven more were arrested during Wednesday’s operation. They were charged with domestic terrorism and criminal trespass. About a dozen demonstrators were seen outside the DeKalb County jail Thursday evening calling the charges "bogus."
DeKalb County police say they will be stepping up patrol over the weekend.