Father proud of hero son

April 1, 2009 5:30:39 AM PDT
Carthage police officer Justin Garner is staying out of the spotlight as the investigation continues into the rampage that left eight dead at a nursing home, but his very proud father spoke exclusively to Eyewitness News. Randy Garner is a longtime member of the hunting club in Carthage. He's been bringing his son Justin since he was 5-years-old. His training as a hunter as well as an officer may have saved more lives.

"I'm proud of him. I think he is a hero," said Randy Garner.

Garner says his son deserves all the praise he's getting for being the lone officer to bring the suspect down in Sunday's shooting rampage.

"Ever since he was a teenager, all he talked about was being a police officer," said Randy.

The 25-year-old has been on the Carthage force for four and a half years, but he's handled a gun as a hunter since he was just 5-years-old.

"He kills more deer than I do let's put it that way. He was a good hunter. He can shoot too. He does good," said his dad.

Randy Garner is a long time member of the Clay Road Farm Hunting Club. Sunday's shooting suspect Robert Stewart was a member too - until they kicked him out for a bad temper and a death threat against the club's founder.

One shot brought Robert Stewart down Sunday. But Stewart - using a shotgun - hit Officer Garner three times - twice in the leg and once in the foot.

"I was scared to death when I found out he got shot. I didn't know how bad or nothing else," said Garner's father.

He says his son told him he was scared but stayed calm. The senior Garner can't talk about details of what his son encountered inside the Pinelake facility, but he's not afraid to say that he thinks Stewart should face the death penalty.

Garner says his son plans to return to the police force, but he's not sure how long it'll take him to recover from his injuries. With two pellets to his leg and one in the foot, his father says he's limping around but otherwise doing okay.


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