KING, N.C. (WGHP) – A family member of a King police officer shot in the line of duty shared the moments he heard his cousin was shot in the head.
King Police Chief J.J. Boyette told FOX8 a 19-year-old shot the officer seconds after a traffic stop early Sunday morning.
“I almost fell over because I heard there had been an officer down,” said Gary Hauser, a cousin of the injured officer. “I just want him to continue getting better.”
At first, Hauser didn’t realize at the time that the officer was his cousin. He stopped by the police station Monday morning to get an update on his cousin. Hauser told FOX8 he did not want to reach out to his immediate family to give them some space.
“He’s a very friendly guy, very pleasant guy to be around,” he said. “He’s a good officer.”
Hauser told FOX8 his cousin cares about the people he served in the King community for nearly four years.
“He comes through the Circle K quite often, checks on them because they have some people in there late at night,” Hauser said.
Boyette said the officer was on his route when he stopped a car on Newsome Road around 12:40 a.m. on Sunday. Four people between the ages of 18 and 20 were in the vehicle.
“This whole incident occurred because one individual chose to not do the right thing,” Boyette said. “One of their brothers in blue got shot over a traffic stop.”
According to Boyette, the driver stopped in the back parking lot of the Dogwood Events Center when a passenger got out and started running. That’s when two officers started a foot chase. He said as one officer passed the car, a passenger in the backseat got out and started shooting at the officer and both officers returned fire.
Boyette told FOX8 the teenager from Winston-Salem died after the shootout.
“If you draw a weapon and shoot at an officer, you’re going to expect us to return fire and end that situation,” Boyette said. “Our officers did the right thing. They did what they were supposed to do.”
Boyette told FOX8 a bullet the 19-year-old fired hit one officer in the head. It’s something the chief said hasn’t happened since he started working at the department 18 years ago.
“It’s not going to be a fix overnight,” he said.
Boyette said the officer suffered a skull fracture.
“He’s going to have a little road that he’s going to have to travel to get his cognitive stuff back, but he’s doing great,” he said. “He’s actually joking some with the mom in there.”
While Hauser’s cousin recovers at a local hospital, he prays this won’t happen again.
“It’s unfortunate. Even though they did this thing, there’s a certain amount of consciousness that I feel kind of bad for them. They need to look into another avenue of something to do,” Hauser said. “We’re just saying our prayers and keeping him in them, and the rest of the police department. Not just him. We want all of them to be safe.”
Boyette told FOX8 no charges have been filed in this case. The second officer was not injured.