NASHVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) — A Nash County deputy who was shot three times during a traffic stop this week is recovering after surgery at a Greenville hospital.

“I just went over and spoke with him and spent some time with him,” said Nash County Sheriff Keith Stone. “Obviously, this is a very emotional time for him right now… you never forget these situations.”

Deputy William Toney should be released from the hospital in a few days, but Stone told CBS 17 Friday that his road to recovery won’t be easy.

“It’s gonna be a lot, he’s gonna need a lot of physical therapy to go through to get the strength back to do ordinary things.”

Building up the physical and mental strength to return to work as a K-9 handler will take even more time.

“We talk about this with the military a lot with the PTSD and people coming back. A lot of the stuff that’s going on out here on this road is just like a war zone,” Stone said of what his deputies deal with.

Toney was shot while assisting fellow Nash County Deputy Shelby Smith with a traffic stop on Interstate 95 Thursday.

Smith shot the suspect, 33-year-old Jarred Ford, of Florida. Stone said she saved Toney’s life, and then made sure Ford would survive until help arrived. 

“And then after they stopped the threat, they provided first aid, which is commendable,” Stone said of how Smith helped the suspect. “To go from being a warrior to going and taking care of a person that just tried to kill you and leave you laying on a cold highway.”

Stone believes people with violent criminal backgrounds like Ford, aren’t where they should be.

“I’m appalled that a man with 11 pages of a criminal record is allowed to run up and down this road,” said Stone.

He added, “Somewhere, somebody’s not doing their job to keep these people in secure settings, prison. We don’t need these violent offenders out here. And it’s very hard on me dealing with the fact that these people keep getting out.”

Stone said Ford is in critical condition.

He also said there is dash and body camera video of the shooting, but that it’s part of the investigation and hasn’t been released yet.