Eric Cook Jr., a Harnett County, NC, sheriff's deputy, formally returned to duty on Monday more than 10 months after he was shot in the chest and the face while trying to locate a missing teenager.
Cook’s fellow deputies, local prosecutors and others from local law enforcement and family gathered for a news conference and ceremony at the Sheriff’s Office in which Cook was given a Law Enforcement Purple Heart Medal and pin. These are presented to law officers who are injured or killed in the line of duty.
Cook’s wife, Melissa, pinned the medal on him, the Fayetteville Observer reports.
“It has taken a lot of determination and commitment over the last 10 months” to recuperate, Cook said. “I am happy to say I am back to work, full duty and able to continue serving the citizens of Harnett County.” Except from some permanent nerve damage, Cook said he is fully recovered.
According to Sheriff Wayne Coats and previous news coverage, Cook was looking for a missing 16-year-old boy last April and found him behind a shopping center off N.C. 87.
When Cook attempted to stop the boy and talk to him, the boy drew a .45-caliber handgun and shot Cook, Coats said.
One round was stopped by Cook’s body armor, likely saving his life. The other entered Cook’s cheek and exited next to his right eye. A scar is visible there. Cook also suffered a broken foot.