Jay James says his brother-in-law was born to be a deputy.
Deputy Cpl. Eric Cook has been with the Harnett County Sheriff’s Office for nearly 12 years.
He’s also a volunteer firefighter.
James says his passion is helping others.
“He’s the type of person that would take the shirt off his back to give to someone,” James said.
But he never dreamed the veteran law enforcement officer would face the uphill battle that’s now ahead of him.
“He loves the Lord and trusts in the Lord and that’s why he’s able to go out that door every day and kiss his wife goodbye and kids, knowing that the Lord will look after him,” James said.
Cook never came home to his wife and kids Saturday night.
Authorities say Cook was responding to a call about a missing teen near HM Cagle Drive in Cameron when he approached 16-year-old Mario Garza III.
Tthe two got into a scuffle.
The teen is accused of then pulling out a gun and shooting Cook in the face and chest, authorities said.
“You can’t describe that moment when we heard the news,” said James. “Nobody wants to get that knock on the door or that phone call and hear that and so we just began praying and hoping.”
Cook’s road to recovery is a long one.
He is at UNC Medical Center and on Wednesday he was moved out of the ICU.
James says he hasn’t been able to speak since the night of the shooting.
“He did mumble some words to his wife,” said James. “He’s able to sit up. He’s able to drink a little water by mouth which is amazing and so we’re seeing little improvements and he’s coming back day by day.”
James says Cook had surgery on his ankle on Wednesday.
Doctors plan to perform facial surgery on Friday, the family says their grateful for the community support and they want everyone to keep the prayers coming.
His wife, sister, and mother also sent us a statement that reads, “The family is overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and love and asks for your continued prayers during his recovery.”
The family also has a GoFundMe page for Cook.
Members of the community are also selling decals and bracelets to raise money to help the family with medical expenses.
On April 21, the Wing Company in Cameron will be donating 25 percent of food sales to Cook and his family.
Also on April 21, from 2-5 p.m., the Dunkin Donuts in Cameron is donating 100 percent of their profits to the Cook family.
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