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Mayor: Cooper will recover
Covington Mayor Ronnie Johnston welcomed media and local officials to a news conference at the Georgia BioScience Training Center Wednesday morning. - photo by Jackie Gutknecht

SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. — Covington police Officer Matt Cooper is continuing to recover from his injuries weeks after a shooting.

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Mayor Ronnie Johnston, speaking at a news conference at the Georgia BioScience Training Center, said he’s been gratified by the outpouring of support since Cooper was shot in the line of duty Sept. 3.

“Matt’s going to be OK,” Johnston said. “He’s got a long road ahead of him.”

Cooper is undergoing care at The Shepherd Center, an inpatient physical rehabilitation facility in Atlanta. He was shot in the head while pursuing a shoplifting suspect at the Walmart on Industrial Boulevard Northeast.

The suspect died at the scene from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound.

“I’ve got to tell you, as mayor, that’s something I never really expected to deal with, or never really even thought about,” Johnston said.

“But I could not be more proud of our community. We have come together in ways that are amazing — all divisions, all races, wealthy, the poor, everybody’s come together. The little town of Covington has personally raised over $180,000 to help Matt and his family. It’s really impressive.”

Johnston said the response to Cooper’s shooting has been restorative.

“If you ever have doubts about America, if you go through something like that and see a community come together — I told the congressman (Jody Hice), since the day he got shot, I don’t think I’ve gotten a hateful Facebook message or a hateful email. Everybody’s come together. But please keep him in your prayers.”

Johnston said Cooper was the first Covington police officer shot in the line of duty in 34 years.