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Suspect on the run
Victim of shooting in critical condition

COVINGTON - A 38-year-old man is in critical condition at an Atlanta hospital after authorities say he was shot in the back of the head during an apparent armed robbery attempt on Gum Tree Trail on New Year's morning.

According to Lt. Bill Watterson, spokesman for the Newton County Sheriff's Office, 25-year-old Courtney Thornton is wanted on charges related to the shooting.

About 4 a.m. Tuesday, Deputy Larry Wigington was sitting at the Kroger shopping center on Salem Road when he was approached by a man who said that he had just been robbed and that a passenger in his car had been shot.

Wigington called for additional deputies, who responded to the area where the incident took place on Gum Tree Trail, Watterson said.

Upon arriving at the scene, deputies discovered a green 2001 Jaguar S-Type sedan with a bullet hole in the passenger's side window.

They found the victim, Dennis Rogers, sitting in the passenger's seat with a gunshot wound to the back of the head. He was taken by air ambulance to Atlanta Medical Center.

A third man who had been in the car told authorities that the three of them were in the car on Gum Tree Trail when Thornton allegedly shot Rogers with a handgun. He said the shooting was unprovoked. He allegedly struggled with Thornton and managed to escape and flag down the deputy.

Watterson described the men as acquaintances, but declined further comment about the extent of their relationship.

As of press time Wednesday, investigators were executing a search warrant at Thornton's residence at 128 Gum Tree Trail, looking for evidence in the case.

Arrest warrants have been issued for Thornton on several charges, including armed robbery, aggravated assault, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

According to The Georgia Department of Corrections Web site, Thornton was previously convicted for sale of marijuana in Rockdale County, which is where his mother resides.

Watterson asks anyone with knowledge of the whereabouts of Thornton to call the NCSO at 678-625-1403. Tips can be given to the NCSO anonymously at 678-625-5007 or through their Web site at www.newtonsheriffga.org by clicking on "anonymous tip line." Those who want a response from NCSO personnel should leave contact information.

Joel Griffin can be reached at joel.griffin@newtoncitizen.com.

SideBar: To give a tip

Anyone with information on the whereabouts of 25-year-old Courtney Thornton of 128 Gum Tree Trail is asked to call the Newton County Sheriff's Office at 678-625-1403. Tips can be given to the NCSO anonymously at 678-625-5007 or through their Web site at www.newtonsheriffga.org by clicking on "anonymous tip line." Those who want a response from NCSO personnel should leave contact information.