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Wounded Lillington Officer Gains 'New Respect for the Badge'

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LILLINGTON — Fresh out of the police academy, 22-year-old Cedric McLeod was looking for a good job in a small, safe community. That hope was destroyed February 8 when he was shot, while off-duty, trying to stop a convenience store robbery in Lillington.

Thursday night, Officer McLeod talked publicly for the first time since the shooting.

"My adrenaline was flowing," McLeod said. "I didn't have time to be afraid. I'm just glad I came out alive."

Almost three weeks after he was nearly shot to death, Cedric McLeod limps through a painful recovery at his Cumberland County home.

"I got hit twice in the arm, and one came out," he said.

He was also hit once in the foot, and the bullet that pierced his side and spleen remains lodged in his lung.

"At the beginning, I felt like this was it," he said. "This was it for me."

McLeod had stopped at a convenience store to get something to eat and visit with the clerk, whom he knew from his police rounds.

"I believe the clerk would have gotten hurt in that situation if I had not been there," he said.

McLeod credits the prayers of his family, friends and fellow officers with helping him emerge from critical condition. He expects to make a full recovery, and return to the Lillington police force.

"I really had second thoughts about it," he said. "But, really, I think about if every police quit when they have an altercation, we wouldn't have anybody patrolling the streets. I'm definitely not a quitter."

McLeod says the shooting has not only given him a renewed appreciation for life, but the bullets opened up a new respect for the badge - even when he is not wearing it.

"I might have took it laid back, but now it's going to make me even stronger when I get back on the department."

Five suspects are being held in the robbery-shooting. Detectives say there may be more arrests. McLeod says he trusts the court system will render justice. Reporter: Cullen Browder


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