Local News

Carthage officer could return to work next month

Cpl. Justin Garner underwent surgery Tuesday morning to remove two of three shotgun pellets lodged in his leg.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — An officer shot in the line of duty while responding to a rampage at a Carthage nursing home last week likely won't return to work this month.

A family member said Tuesday that Cpl. Justin Garner, 25, could return to duty next month, however.

Garner, a past officer-of-the-year winner and a field training officer who has been on the Carthage police force for more than four years, underwent surgery Tuesday morning to remove two shotgun pellets from his leg. A third pellet remains, because it was too risky to remove, Carthage police Chief Chris McKenzie said.

Police said Robert Kenneth Stewart, 45, went to Pinelake Health and Rehab on March 29 and fatally shot seven patients and a nurse and injuring three other people, including Garner.

Garner shot Stewart, ending the violence, police said.

In an interview Monday on NBC's "The Today Show," Garner said he was about 35 yards away from Stewart when he shot Stewart. He said he had ordered Stewart three times to drop his weapon.

Garner was hit twice in the leg.

According to search warrants made public Monday, officers found at least nine firearms and an assortment of ammunition inside Stewart's home at 2530 Glendon Carthage Road.

Detectives also collected bottles of pills from the home as well as pieces of notebook paper with writing on them, according to the warrants. They do not, however, offer any information about what the papers say.

According to the warrants, Stewart told a nurse he had taken six nerve pills and did not remember the shooting. Two vials of blood were taken from him, but results were not released.

After the shooting, officers found a .22-caliber rifle on top of a Jeep Cherokee registered to Stewart's estranged wife, Wanda Stewart. She was inside the nursing home at the time but was not hurt. She said last week that she thinks was the intended target.