Harnett County deputy shot in face, chest moved from ICU, still undergoing surgeries

CAMERON, NC (WTVD) -- A Harnett County deputy is still in the hospital recovering after being shot over the weekend.

On Wednesday, the sheriff's office said Cpl. James Eric Cook was removed from the ICU but still has to undergo several surgeries.

"We need everybody to be praying for his family and this officer," Sheriff Wayne Coats said.

Cook has more than 10 years of service with the department.

Authorities said he was shot in the face and chest Saturday by 16-year-old Mario Alexander Garza III.

Garza was the subject of a missing persons report on Friday.

READ MORE: Suspect wanted in shooting Harnett County sheriff's deputy caught

Cook was following up with the investigation of that report when he encountered Garza and a scuffle broke out.

"It was a sickening phone call that I got," said Coats. "When they said he had been shot, I knew officer Cook always wore a vest and I thought if he wasn't hit anywhere else he'll probably be okay. On the way to Cape Fear I got the phone call that he had been shot in the face."

Garza was also arrested in February after bringing a pocket knife to school.

He's now charged with attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, and assault with a firearm on law enforcement.
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