Deputy shot in the face, chest while conducting investigation
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A 16-year-old suspect was caught hours later after a massive manhunt, Sheriff Wayne Coats said

By Rodger Mullen
The Fayetteville Observer, N.C.

CAMERON, N.C. — A 16-year-old suspected of shooting a Harnett County deputy on Saturday was caught hours later after a massive manhunt, Sheriff Wayne Coats said.

Mario Alexander Garcia III, no address available, was taken into custody shortly before 10 p.m. It was not clear what he would be charged with, Coats said.

The deputy, identified as James Cook, was in stable condition late Saturday at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center in Fayetteville, Coats said.

Cook was shot near H.M. Cagle Drive while conducting an investigation, said Maj. Jeff Huber, a spokesman for the Sheriff's Office. The shooting occurred on a dirt path in a wooded area near Spout Springs Church.

He had responded to a call about a missing juvenile around 6:34 p.m.

“They got into a scuffle and he pulled a gun out and shot him,’’ Coats said.

Cook was shot in the face and chest at close range, the sheriff said. The shooting happened a few hundred feet from Cook's patrol vehicle. The sheriff said he did not know where Garcia got the gun, believed to be a .45-caliber handgun.

Coats talked to reporters at a news conference after visiting with Cook at the hospital.

He said Cook was alert and talking with him. When Coats rounded the corner toward the deputy's room, Cook was able to say "Sheriff, I'm OK.''

Cook has been with the Sheriff's Office about eight years.

H.M. Cagle Drive is off N.C. 87, about seven miles north of Spring Lake. It is near a shopping center that includes a Food Lion grocery store.

For awhile, N.C. 87 was shut down.

“We didn’t want him to be able to get back and possibly carjack somebody,’’ Coats said.

On Saturday night, patrol vehicles and emergency personnel from various agencies were in the area. Authorities were set up near Cagle Furniture and Spout Springs Church. Dogs and a helicopter from the state Highway Patrol were used in the search.

The Highway Patrol and members of the sheriff's offices in Cumberland, Lee and Wake counties and the Fayetteville Police Department were among the agencies that took part in the search.

"We weren't going to stop until we got him,’’ the sheriff said.

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