RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) -A Sampson County deputy is recovering at a local hospital after being shot in the line of duty Saturday morning.
On Sunday, Sampson County Sheriff Jimmy Thornton said Deputy Caitlin Emanuel is recovering well, but still has a long road ahead.
“I cannot begin to express how moved I am by the outpouring of love and support from our community. Our citizen’s support for law enforcement and Caitlin have been second to none,” Thornton said.
Thornton said Emanuel had responded to a report of a stolen car around 2 a.m. Saturday and confronted a man — who deputies later identified as Michael Walthall of Pennsylvania.
Thornton said Emanuel confronted Walthall before a struggle occurred. The sheriff said at one point Walthall grabbed Emanuel around the neck and Emanuel tried to reach for her gun.
He said the gun went off and hit the deputy in the leg.
The Sampson County Sheriff’s Office said Emanuel was taken to a hospital and airlifted to another location where she went into surgery.
Thornton said they were able to set up a perimeter and find Walthall nearby after he tried to run away. He said Walthall is facing multiple charges and has had his bond increased to $1 million.
Steve Boyette, a licensed ham radio operator from Sampson County, said he heard Emanuel’s original call for help.
“I had the scanner on in the background as I always do and I heard this female voice that was frantic,” Boyette said, adding he immediately focused on the call and became worried.
“Caitlin told her dispatchers she had been shot and that really sent cold chills down my back,” Boyette said.
He told CBS 17 News that he stayed up for the next three hours listening and to make sure Emanuel got the help she needed.
“I wanted so badly to go and assist her but I knew there was nothing I could do – that was a terrible feeling.”
Boyette said he felt relief knowing Emanuel was recovering, but also felt pride with how all the agencies and Sampson County Sheriff’s deputies handled the situation.
“They set about to establish a perimeter, and slowly tightened up the perimeter and then in a relatively short time they had their suspect,” Boyette said.
Thornton shared a GoFundMe page that had already raised thousands of dollars to support Emanuel and her family.
Friends of the family told CBS 17 News that Emanuel had recently been married and is coming up on her one-year anniversary.
Local businesses have stepped up to help raise money for the family, as well, and many more people in the Sampson County community have had the deputy in their prayers.