Officers Cantrell Cooley and James Walker save the life of a Georgia veteran

On Tuesday, June 26, an Air Force veteran used a combination of fireworks and gasoline to set himself on fire at the State Capitol. The veteran was said to be “disgruntled” and protesting the Department of Veterans Affairs for unsatisfactory treatment.

The time was around 10:43 a.m. that witnesses say they heard sounds of fireworks in front of the Capitol.  Two state law enforcement officers, Trooper 1st Class Cantrell Cooley and Capitol Police Officer James Walker were in the right place at the right time. They immediately sprung into action – running towards the explosion as the man set himself on fire, and without worrying about safety for themselves.

Trooper 1st Class Cantrell Cooley was headed to pick up a friend for lunch when he noticed the incident and quickly rushed over with a  state-issued fire extinguisher. In an interview with Mark Winne of WSB-TV, Cooley stated, “I just knew that this man here needed more help than if I got hit by a firework. It was something that was small compared to this man’s body fully engulfed.” Prior to joining the Georgia State Patrol, Cooley  was a firefighter in his hometown of Valdosta. Therefore, he felt that he was simply placed in the right place at the perfect time. “It’s what God created me for, to help people,” Cooley said.

In addition to the efforts of Cooley, Officer James Walker was approaching the Capitol when he heard the explosion, saw smoke and saw the man still in flames. Without hesitation, he grabbed his own extinguisher and assisted Cooley until an Atlanta Fire and Rescue unit arrived. Walker also rode in the ambulance with the veteran as he was driven to Grady Memorial Hospital. “I was at Grady for five hours pretty much just sitting with the doctors and just praying over him and hoping he was gone be alright,” stated Cooley.  Although these additional actions were not required of Cooley, he adds “That’s what I feel being in law enforcement and this career is all about — is being selfless.”

Both, Officer Cantrell Cooley and James Walker displayed bravery and dedication with their actions. Thank you officers for serving the State of Georgia proudly!



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