An Atlanta police officer was seriously injured Monday afternoon when he tried to serve an arrest warrant to a man suspected of armed robbery and was shot multiple times, officials said.
The unnamed officer, who has been with the department for 11 years, was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital and was stable, according to Atlanta police Deputy Chief Darin Schierbaum. The suspected shooter, 22-year-old Christian Eppinger, was taken into custody.
“This department will not be deterred. What happened today is the challenge that we are against here in Atlanta and in cities across the country,” Schierbaum said. “Police officers are being assaulted at record levels across the country.”
The shooting happened about 1:15 p.m. as the officer was trying to arrest Eppinger at the Colonial Square Apartment Homes along Old Hapeville Road, Schierbaum said. During a fight, Eppinger pulled out a concealed handgun and shot the officer multiple times, according to the GBI, which has been asked to investigate the officer-involved shooting.
Another officer returned fire, but Eppinger was not injured, the GBI said in a news release Tuesday. Eppinger, who Schierbaum described as a known gang member and threat to residents in the area, ran away and was located a short time later in a nearby apartment and taken into custody, according to the GBI. A handgun was recovered from the scene.
No other officers were injured.
“At this time, the officer is here at the hospital in stable condition. He is seriously injured. He’s able to communicate with his coworkers. He’s able to communicate with his family,” Schierbaum said. “He will have a long road through recovery.”
Eppinger was taken to the Fulton County jail, where he faces a slew of charges, including aggravated assault and aggravated battery against a peace officer, willful obstruction of law enforcement and six counts of participating in gang-related criminal activity. A bond has not been set.
According to police, Eppinger was wanted on robbery and aggravated assault charges stemming from an October incident.
“This individual was armed and this individual was looking to cause harm at the appropriate time. It happened to be an Atlanta police officer that was able to intervene before he robbed anyone else, assaulted anyone else,” Schierbaum said.
Monday’s incident is at least the second time an Atlanta police officer was shot in the line of duty in less than eight months. On June 30, Khuong Thai was “ambushed” along with Joshua Lovreta while they were investigating a shooting at the Solace on Peachtree apartments, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution previously reported. Thai was shot twice as he and Lovreta stepped out of the elevator. One bullet struck his shoulder and the other hit him in the face.
Most recently, Clayton County officer Henry Laxson was shot and killed while responding to a domestic disturbance in Rex on Nov. 30. Two women were killed and a 12-year-old boy was shot in the incident. The suspect, 35-year-old Arthur Allen Gilliam, was killed.
Shortly prior, a Henry County officer and a Jackson County deputy died Nov. 8 from injuries after separate shootings. Jackson Deputy Lena Marshall, 49, and Henry Officer Paramhans Desai, 38, were responding to domestic calls when each was shot in the line of duty.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution also tracks officer-involved shootings that don’t involve the GBI, and those numbers sometimes differ from the GBI’s tally.
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