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Officer's father: Son is eager to return to duty

Posted April 1, 2009
Updated April 2, 2009

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— When a friend called Randy Garner Sunday to tell him that his son, Carthage Police Officer Justin Garner, had been shot at a nursing home in the line of duty, he thought the worst.

“I was nervous. I knew he had been shot, but I didn’t know how bad (it was),” Randy Garner said.

Justin Garner, 25, is credited with stopping a gunman at the Pinelake Health and Rehab Center in Carthage on Sunday. The gunman shot and killed eight people and wounded three before Justin Garner’s single shot to the chest stopped him.

“Our deep condolences go out to the families of the victims of that nursing home shooting. But the damage could have been far worse for the entire town if it hadn’t been for a young officer, a 25-year-old policeman named Justin Garner, who displayed courage and character,” Vice President Joe Biden said during a stop in Duplin and Wayne counties on Wednesday.

Father: Carthage officer ready to get back to work Father: Carthage officer ready to get back to work

Justin Garner was wounded in the leg during the incident.  Father and son were reunited after Justin Garner was released from the hospital.

“We hugged each other (and) told each other we loved each other,” Randy Garner said.

Randy Garner is bursting with pride over what his son did to save lives, but he also has strong feelings about the accused gunman Robert Stewart, who faces eight counts of first-degree murder and one count of felony assault on a law enforcement officer. He said the shootings make him “mad.”

Justin Garner was recovering with the help of his wife. The media attention forced the couple to leave their home and seek seclusion.

Randy Garner said his son has not discussed with him much about the actual shooting, but he has said he is eager to get back to work.

Though he knows the emotional scars from the tragedy will take longer to heal, Randy Garner said he believes his son is up to the task.

“He’ll be alright down the road. He’s going to be OK,” Randy Garner said.

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  • thumperrabbit81 Apr 2, 2009

    The nursing home was extremely lucky that someone with a weapon and the courage and training to use it was on site. Officer Garner's actions certainly kept the carnage from being worse.

    On the TV coverage I think I noticed a 'no guns' sign on the front entrance (if someone can confirm or refute this, please do). Obviously the gunman did not heed the sign. This should be a lesson to those who feel 'safer' hiding behind these signs. They are as protective as the transparency they are printed on.

    What happens next time when an officer isn't there and a licensed concealed weapons holder has left his weapon in the car because he DOES lawfully abide by the sign?

  • Groovy Apr 2, 2009

    Officer Garner is a wonderful example of a fine young man. I know his father is proud.

  • jjslilred Apr 2, 2009

    I could not thank Officer Garner enough. He is a truly special person to have the strenght and courage to do what he did. I hope that he and his wife are doing well and that he recovers quickly. Our town is blessed to have an officer like him!!

  • beckylayhew2 Apr 2, 2009

    I want to say that I think God for ppl like Justin Garner. We the ppl do not give police officers the respect they deserve. They put their lifes on the line so we don't have to. As a wife of a Police Officer I want to Thank them all because of ppl like you I feel safer at night. I'm thankful officer Garner is ok and hope a speed recovery... He is truely an AMERICAN HERO!!!!!

  • SaltlifeLady Apr 2, 2009

    Glad he was there. Sad this man had to leave the comfort of his own home so he can heal in peace! The media have no respect for people's privacy sometimes!