Cortelle Jackson, his wife Mary, and his 51-year-old son Billy Frank were in the den when the lights went out and the phones went dead. Someone then fired a shotgun at the door to get in.
Jackson says he thought the family was "headed for the funeral home."
Billy Frank was hit in the leg, but he managed to get his shotgun and load it. The masked shooter broke down another door, then both opened fire.
Billy Frank fired an instant sooner, and hit the intruder in the chest. Jackson was partially hit in the hand and knee by the blast.
"I said 'We're going to be killed if we don't get away, get in the car and get away from here,'" Jackson remembers.
The Sampson County Sheriff's Department is shocked.
"We've had this happen before in drug-related cases and where there was violence but nothing like this before where there was elderly people, where they've not bothered anybody," Captain Landis Lee says.
Neighbor Sam Warren is also stunned. "Nothing like this ever happened in this neighborhood, nothing as far back as I can remember. There's nothing even compared with it," Warren says.
The elderly couple calls their son a hero for saving their lives.
Billy Frank is still at Wake Med, in satisfactory condition; Jackson was released from the hospital Wednesday.
Captain Lee says they are looking for two suspects in what they believe was a robbery attempt. One of the suspects is probably seriously injured. Law enforcement agencies across the state have been alerted.
If you have any information about the shooting, you can call910-592-4141.