Atlanta, GA

7 people have been arrested on domestic terrorism charges after a gunshot death near a planned Atlanta police academy.

Sherif Saad
Domestic TerrorismPhoto byRosemary Ketchum/

( CNN ) - According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, seven people were detained and charged with domestic terrorism after the shooting deaths of one person and a Georgia state trooper close to a potential Atlanta police training center.

Activists called the $90 million, 85-acre project "Cop City," and opponents had been camped out in the forest for months to halt development. Gunfire was exchanged when law enforcement started a mission to clear the area early on Wednesday, according to GBI Director Mike Register.

Opponents of the project and law enforcement have provided contrasting accounts of what transpired. According to Register, law enforcement officers "returned fire in self-defense" after someone "without warning shot a Georgia State Patrol Trooper."

In a gunfight, "the person who fired onto law enforcement and shot the trooper was dead," according to Register. The GBI said that at about 9 a.m., police "discovered a male inside a tent in the woods."

Officers gave the guy verbal orders, but he disobeyed and shot a Georgia State Patrol trooper. Other police officers opened fire in response, striking the guy. According to the revised announcement, law enforcement relocated the trooper to a secure location.

Kei Diliza, a resident of neighboring Gresham Park and a member of the community group "Stop Cop City," told CNN on Wednesday that testimonies from other activists who were close by contradicted the police's claim that a protester fired shots at them.

According to "Stop Cop City," the police operation on Wednesday reportedly started "with multiple armed cops blocking off a public road and pointing weapons into the park." " For months, community members have been calling for the police to stop using violent techniques against forest defenders.

To demand an end to police persecution of the campaign to halt cop city, more than 100 residents and activists gathered outside the DeKalb County Courthouse only on Monday, according to the statement.

According to a notice from the agency, some 25 campsites were taken out of the area during the cleaning operation. Among the weapons found were "mortar-type pyrotechnics, many edged weapons, pellet guns, gas masks, and a blow torch." All seven people detained were residents of states other than Georgia.

A contentious development dispute

There have been violent occurrences at the planned facility in the past. Following a confrontation between activists and demonstrators against the construction of the property, five people were detained and charged with domestic terrorism last year.

According to CNN station WSB, eight protestors were detained in May after a Molotov cocktail was thrown at police as they attempted to evict them from the neighborhood. And as police attempted to dismantle barriers at the area's gates last month, five individuals were detained and charged with domestic terrorism.

According to the Atlanta Police Foundation, law enforcement has been using subpar facilities in the past, and the center will assist in raising morale and recruiting efforts.

A gun range, a model city, and a burning structure will be part of the complex.

Others worry about the project's environmental impact, and still, others claim the project, which will cost taxpayers about $30 million, has been developed in a largely secretive fashion with little input from the local community. Opponents of the project see it as a response to the 2020 protests that will be sparked by the deaths of black people while in police custody.

Building a new facility that will "teach police officers to be successful in interacting with the community is a positive thing for the community," Register said during a press conference on Wednesday, noting that there are now discussions taking place around the country about modernizing police forces.

According to the GBI, the individual who passed away on Wednesday has been identified as 26-year-old Manuel Esteban Paez Teran.

Teran was described as a "Forest Defender" who battled environmental racism by activists affiliated with a group denouncing the location. Teran, also known as Tortuguita, who identifies as nonbinary, was described as "lovely, kind, highly clever, and loving" in a joint statement from local justice organizations.

The release states that the guy passed away there and then. The GBI said that a firearm and ammunition casings were found on the site.

According to the Georgia Department of Public Safety, the injured trooper was sent to Grady Memorial Hospital for treatment and was in stable condition on Thursday.

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