Like Many people, I was horrified to hear of the shooting rampage in a Carthage, NC retirement home this past week. The man who did it, Robert Stewart, was ultimately stopped when a 25-year-old local policeman shot him the hallway. The officer, Justin Garner, grew up in Carthage and had been a NC highway patrolman at one time before deciding to go back to his home town.
I know many who thank God that he made that decision.
This young man was apparently the only one on duty when the calls started coming in Sunday. He took his pistol and went to the Pinelake Health and Rehab Center. Despite being shot in the leg and foot with shotgun pellets, Garner was able to bring Stewart down with a single shot from his .40 cal Glock pistol.
This young man, an avid hunter and fisherman, is to be commended with the highest award we can give. He truly was willing to lay down his life to save others (as did one of the health care workers). That he did it without being told, because it was just part of his job to do so, shows that the Greatest Generation or 9-11 Firefighters aren't the last heroes.
I don't know if North Carolina plans to honor him; I know the folks in Carthage will probably make sure he doesn't need to think about cooking Sunday dinner for rest of his life. And having gone to high school at Union Pines, just down the road from where this happened, I can tell you the community is tight-knit. Everyone knows nearly everyone else. So Justin will be a hero in the hearts of people there for generations. Good goin' son. Way to get er done!