Teen captured after Harnett County deputy shot in face, chest, officials say

CAMERON, NC (WNCN) — A Harnett County deputy was injured when he was shot in the face and the chest on Saturday night, officials said.

Officials said the deputy, James Eric Cook, was alert and in stable condition and that a teen suspect, later identified as Mario A. Garza III,  was in custody by 10:45 p.m.

The shooting happened on a path in woods near HM Cagle Drive in Cameron, according to a news release from the Harnett County Sheriff’s Office.

The bullets in the shooting were from a handgun and hit “center mass” on the deputy’s chest, but he was wearing a bullet-proof vest, which saved his life, Harnett County Sheriff Wayne Coats said.

Saturday night, authorities said they were looking for a 16-year-old male who they “considered armed and dangerous.”

Officials later said they captured Garza behind Cagle Furniture, which was near the original shooting scene.

N.C. 87 was closed in both directions for about two hours near Buffaloe Lakes Road.

Tracking dogs and a North Carolina State Highway Patrol helicopter were assisting in the search for the suspect.

The deputy, who has been with the sheriff’s office for about eight years, was taken to Cape Fear Valley Hospital for treatment.

Coats said that the deputy was still in the hospital as of Sunday afternoon and has surgery planned for mid-week.

Garza has been charged with one count each of attempted first-degree murder and assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury, and two counts of assault with a firearm on law enforcement.

He is being held on a $1,500,000..00 bond and is due in court on Monday.

The deputy remains in stable condition.

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