An off-duty Marine on his way home from work early Wednesday morning was shot and wounded in what officials suspect was a reveler carelessly shooting a firearm.
John Cooksey, 24, of Bridgeton, was traveling west on U.S. 70 near the old Captain Bly’s Shipwreck Cove between Havelock and New Bern around 2:30 a.m. Wednesday, on his way home from work at Cherry Point.
Sheriff’s Capt. Joe Heckman said Cooksey heard a pop and felt a sudden sting in his neck.
“He didn’t realize he was hit,” Heckman said.
Cooksey noticed he was bleeding, however, and pulled into the Exxon gas station at Thurman Road, where he called a friend for help. Cooksey was taken by ambulance to CarolinaEast Medical Center.
Tests revealed a bullet lodged in his neck, and the sheriff’s department was notified at about 4:30 a.m.
Sheriff Jerry Monette stated Cooksey was shot behind his ear with a small caliber bullet.
Cooksey was transported to Vidant Medical Center in Greenville and was later released.
An employee at the Exxon gas station stated that sheriff’s deputies came to the station and removed a pickup truck, apparently Cooksey’s, shortly after she came to work at 4:30 a.m.
Monette said no bullet holes were found in the vehicle and it is believed that Cooksey was driving with his window down.
Heckman said the origin of the shot was unknown.
“We don’t know if it came from the ground (or) from another vehicle,” he said.
Monette said the department is following a number of leads and narrowing down the origin of the gunshot.
“There has been a lot of celebratory noise going on,” Monette said.
The deputies have heard reports of sporadic gunfire going on late at night, he said.
“To be honest, we don’t know that it was an intentional act. ... It just stunned him a little bit,” he said. “He was just riding around, minding his own business.
“What we’ll be doing is, we’ll be talking to the neighbors and trying to narrow it down to a particular area where the shots were fired.”
The sheriff’s office is asking for information from anyone who knows anything about the incident, or of persons shooting firearms late at night in the area. They can call the department at 636-6632.
Bill Hand is a reporter for the Sun Journal.