Hero in Carthage shooting rampage moving to Highway Patrol

Posted February 23, 2011

— The Carthage police officer who stopped a shooting rampage at a nursing home two years ago has left the police force to become a state trooper.

Cpl. Justin Garner was the only police officer on duty on March 29, 2009, when he responded to a report of shots fired at Pinelake Health and Rehabilitation Center.

Garner exchanged gunfire with a man inside, ending a shooting rampage by wounding the gunman in the shoulder. The officer was shot twice in the leg during the incident.

Monday was his last day as an officer for the Carthage Police Department. He will soon start class at the training academy for the state Highway Patrol.

Pinelake residents Tessie Garner, 75; Lillian Dunn, 89; Jesse Musser, 88; Bessie Hedrick, 78; John Goldston, 78; Margaret Johnson, 89; and Louise De Kler, 98; and nurse Jerry Avant, 39, died during the rampage.

Robert Kenneth Stewart, 47, is awaiting trial on eight counts of first-degree murder in the case. If convicted, he could be sentenced to death.


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  • AF Flight Nurse Feb 24, 2011

    The people of Carthage and Moore have every reason to be proud of this young man. He responded to a horrible event and saved more lives than we will ever understand. We appreciate the courage and determination he showed that day beyond his years. Just like we appreciate ALL law enforcement officers for protecting, serving all residents of North Carolina with honor and integrity. Thank you, WRAL, for posting another robust example of a POSITIVE role model.

  • 2050nc Feb 24, 2011

    I cannot tell you how proud the people of Carthage are of this young man. He risked his own life as he was the ONLY officer on duty that Sunday morning. He is and was an exemplary example of the highest caliber of police officer, and will make an outstanding Highway Patrolman. Good luck in your new venture Justin, and God bless.