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‘He’s a fighter:’ After struggle for survival, wife says Charles Ainsworth is making remarkable recovery

March 21, 2019 GMT

As the wife of a police officer, Jenny Ainsworth now knows what it’s like to get “the call.”

For the first time since her husband, Officer Charles Ainsworth, was shot in the line of duty in January, Jenny Ainsworth is speaking publicly about is recovery process.

Charlie and Jenny Ainsworth grew up together in eastern North Carolina. They went to the same schools, had the same homeroom and eventually started dating while they were students at North Carolina State University.

They were both unsure at first about what they wanted to do in life, until one day Charlie made a decision.

“One day he got home, and he said, ‘I just want you to know that I finished my application for the Raleigh Police Department’ and I said, ‘OK, if that’s what you want to do,’” Jenny Ainsworth said.

Charlie Ainsworth became a Raleigh police officer in December 2017. Jenny Ainsworth went on to become a teacher. They were a young couple with no worries.

“You know, I said ‘I love you’ and ‘goodbye’ and I always said ‘be safe,’ but I was never worried about him at work for sure,” Jenny Ainsworth said.

On January 9, that all changed. At 26 years old, Charlie Ainsworth was shot at close range while answering a call about a stolen car.

“[I was] just in shock,” Jenny Ainsworth said of her reaction when she got the call. “I was told initially he was fine, and so I thought it was a very minimal injury, and the first two weeks were very stressful, and we were just literally taking it hour by hour.”

Charlie Ainsworth’s prognosis was grim at the beginning. Not only had he been shot in the neck, he suffered a series of strokes. An officer at the scene didn’t wait for an ambulance after the shooting, he put Officer Ainsworth in his car and headed for the hospital.

“I’m forever thankful for Officer Hathaway, who did that,” Jenny Ainsworth said. “Because Charlie may very well have died if it wasn’t for his actions. So many things went right that night when something went so wrong.”

The brotherhood in blue has put its arms around the Ainsworths. Fundraisers like Wednesday night’s Battle of the Badges hockey game, raffles, T-shirt sales and restaurant events have all raised money to help the family.

Jenny Ainsworth has received letters from people across the country, offering prayers and support.

“We’ve had so many come up and every time they say we’re praying for you, wishing you the best, is there anything I can do for you,” she said.

Doctors tell Jenny Ainsworth that her husband’s recovery has been remarkable. She says she’s grateful to the WakeMed doctors, nurses and therapists for their compassion, and for bringing her husband back to her.

“His personality is back and that’s the best thing. When he sees me, he smiles and gives me a hug and a kiss, so he’s there, he’s Charlie,” she said. “His dad got him this Nerf ball gun the other day, and he’ll shoot it at us in the hospital, so him being his old self is a relief.”

Jenny Ainsworth also wanted to thank her fellow teachers, who donated their vacation time so she could be with her husband. She hopes to return to teaching by the end of the year.

“That’s been amazing, and I’m truly grateful for that because I would not be able to be with Charlie, and it’s nice to know I don’t have to worry about that,” she said of the time donations.

Jenny Ainsworth said her husband may be able to go home in a couple of months, although it could take as much as a year.

“Why he’s been in the hospital so long is because he’s recovering from those strokes,” Jenny Ainsworth said. “The doctors are amazed by how well he’s recovering. They’re saying he shouldn’t be this far, and he is. He’s above and beyond. He’s a fighter.”

The Battle of the Badges game Wednesday night raised about $35,000 for the Ainsworths and checks were still coming in Thursday.

For Sunday night’s Carolina Hurricanes game, lower bowl seats will be sold at $35 each, with $5 of each ticket sale going to the Ainsworth family. An additional $4,755 has been raised for the family from that ticket offer so far.