NCSO: Suspect arrested in shooting

COVINGTON - A man wanted for the New Year's Day shooting of 38-year-old Dennis Rogers was taken into custody by authorities in the early morning hours Saturday.

According to Lt. Bill Watterson, spokesman for the Newton County Sheriff's Office, investigators received a tip that the suspect, Courtney Courtmentez Thornton, 25, was at a residence on Hooper Street in Atlanta.

At 2 a.m. Saturday, NCSO investigators, along with authorities from the U.S Marshals Service and DeKalb County Sheriff's Office, went to the home and took Thornton into custody without incident.

Thornton made his first court appearance Monday morning and will shortly go before a Superior Court judge for a bond hearing, according to Watterson.

Thornton is facing numerous charges, including murder, aggravated assault, armed robbery, 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.

The victim, who authorities say was shot in the back of the head by Thornton during an apparent armed robbery attempt, died of complications resulting from the bullet wound on Friday.

Deputy Larry Wigington was in his patrol car at the Kroger shopping center on Salem Road at 4 a.m. New Year's Day 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 on Gum Tree Trail.

Upon arriving at the scene, deputies discovered a green luxury sedan with a bullet hole in the passenger's side window, at which point they saw Rogers sitting in the seat slumped over.

The man who summoned deputies said he had been in the car with the two other men when Thornton, who was sitting in the back seat of the vehicle, shot Rogers with a handgun. He said the shooting was unprovoked.

When asked about the new year beginning with another violent crime, Newton County Sheriff Joe Nichols said, "It's alarming. The last of couple of years we've broken records for homicides. I hope that (this shooting) is not indicative of the way the rest of the year will go."

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