NC beach town policeman in coma after being shot in chest - WBTW-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Florence, SC

NC beach town policeman in coma after being shot in chest

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MOREHEAD CITY, NC -

A Morehead City police officer was accidentally shot during a training exercise.

It happened Wednesday morning behind the police department.

Morehead City police officer Garrett Hardin is in a medically-induced coma after one of his fellow officers accidentally shot him during a training exercise.

 Hardin, age 23, lies in a hospital bed at Vidant Medical Center, the community is rallying behind him and searching for answers.

Hardin's aunt told 9 On Your Side he always wants to be a police officer and he was living out his dream.

There has been an overwhelming amount of support from the community for Hardin, who was not wearing a bullet-proof vest at the time of the shooting.

WNCT caught up with one of Hardin's friends who is an officer in the neighboring city of Beaufort.

"It was shocking. We heard the call initially, I was actually at work. Of course, automatically you're concerned when you hear an officer has been injured and then, of course, when I found out it was Garrett, it was even more shocking," said Det. Eric Sassano, Beaufort Police.

"It's very unfortunate. So we're praying for you. We're hoping for a speedy recovery and a full recovery. [For] your family as well. Everybody right now is probably going through a very hard time. We're by your side and prayers are just with the Family and Garrett."

The outpouring of support for Garrett has been overwhelming. The family said that the next 48 hours are going to be critical.

Investigators are staying very tight-lipped about the incident, but it all happened around 9 am Wednesday.

The officer's family has confirmed Hardin, a patrol officer with the department, was accidentally shot in the chest this morning during a training exercise.

The family preferred not to go on camera, but tell us Hardin was not wearing a bullet-proof vest at the time and the bullet punctured his lung.

Hardin was airlifted to Vidant Medical Center. His family says he was coherent and talking at the time, but at last check he was out of surgery and listed in critical condition.

The SBI is still investigating, but Wednesday afternoon Morehead City Mayor Jerry Jones says there was another officer involved.

"Our hearts are with you and our prayers are with you to both officers and their families. This is going to be a hard time for all of us. We are one big family we're going to get through it," said Jerry Jones, Morehead City mayor.

Police Chief Wrenn Johnson says this is one of the hardest things her department has had to go through, but she says they're staying strong.

The family says Hardin always wanted to be a police officer and they're hopeful.

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