WARNER ROBINS -- Tom Livingston awoke Sunday night to the sound of his bedroom door opening. He said he felt something pressed against his temple and found himself in a struggle for his life with his own grandson.
Livingston, 70, was shot once in the right side of the head. The bullet traveled in and out before it tore into his pillow.
His wife, 67-year-old Rosylin Livingston, was shot twice in the head. Shes recovering at The Medical Center of Central Georgia, now out of intensive care and in her own room.
Houston County authorities charged the couples grandson, 25-year-old Joshua Allen Cook, with aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime. Hes in the Houston County jail. But he first went to the hospital. His grandfather fought back hard.
Five hours before the assault
Tom Livingston, a retired civil service worker at Robins Air Force Base, had just finished watching the NASCAR Sprint Cup race in Talladega, Ala., when he went into the kitchen to get something to drink. Cook was in the kitchen with Livingston. It was about 6 p.m.
He proceeded to thank me and Rosylin for taking him in when he was out of a job and had no place to stay, said Livingston, as he smoked a Cornerstone thin cigar in a Warner Robins motel room. Their home is being cleaned by professionals and the bloodstained carpet is being removed.
He told us how much he appreciated the help wed given him, Livingston continued. We tried to tell him that he was family and that he didnt have to worry about that.
Cook had been living with his grandparents for about 10 months. His grandfather said he had been a great help around the home. Without being asked and when it wasnt expected, Cook helped his grandmother with housework and did yard work that his grandfather was no longer able to do.
I had no idea we had any problems at all, Livingston said.
Livingston, who suffers from a sleeping disorder and wears an oxygen mask at night, wasnt sure what was happening at first.
I started to raise up to see who was in there, he said. Something touched me beside the head, and I figured it was my wife, that something was wrong -- that she wanted to talk to me about it.
I reached my hand up for some reason, and when I come down, my fingers went over the barrel of the gun, my fingers went inside the trigger guard and the gun come down and he fired, Livingston said. I took the gun away from him.
Somehow or another, Livingston said, he managed to get out from under the covers and on top of Cook.
I started whooping on him, Livingston said.
The bullet had entered Livingstons head under the scalp and traveled about three inches, grazing his skull before it came back out.
I beat the devil out of him with my hands, my gun, Livingston said. I still had the gun in my right hand. I just used it like a club. He went to choke me. I bit his hand.
Livingston also recalled biting his grandson on the arm and biting his fingers while continuing to hit him with the gun and with his left fist.
Livingston said he asked Cook during the tussle what he had done to his grandmother.
He said, Dont worry about Maw Maw. I killed her. I made sure of it, Livingston recalled his grandson saying.
Finally, Cook asked for a truce, Livingston said.
I said, All right but dont you move, Livingston recalled. Then he said ... Shoot me. Kill me. I said, No, I dont want to kill you. I just want to hurt you some. He said, Well, let me have the gun, and Ill kill myself. I said, No, you dont need to kill yourself.
He told his grandson, who was now lying on the bed, to stay put or youll have it worse.
Livingston then went to check on his wife of nearly 23 years. She was lying on the floor of her bedroom next to the bed and night table. She was on the phone with 911.
Livingston said he returned to his room and kept Cook subdued until Houston County sheriffs deputies arrived. It was now about 10:50 p.m.
All three were taken in different ambulances to the Medical Center.
The grandmothers ordeal
Livingston would later learn at the hospital what had happened to his wife. The night of the shooting, she was at the kitchen sink with her back to Cook when he suddenly appeared with the .22 caliber handgun that belonged to the family, Livingston said. He said hed given the gun to her for protection. She kept it in her bedroom closet.
She saw the glimmer from the kitchen light on the gun as it reflected in the window above the kitchen sink. She ran for it, her husband said.
The first shot missed her but struck the wall near the refrigerator. As she ran into the den with her back to her grandson, she was struck in the head with a bullet. Cook was quickly over her -- firing another shot at her head, Livingston said.
He kicked her and hit her to make sure she was dead, Livingston said. But she played possum.
When the room was clear, Rosylin Livingston, not sure where her husband was, crawled to his smoking room where the couples dogs are also housed. She next crawled past his bedroom and, seeing the struggle, continued to make her way on her knees to her bedroom and called 911, Tom Livingston said.
Later at the hospital, she underwent surgery to remove pieces of her skull fractured by a bullet. Another bullet grazed her head, Livingston said.
My wife is only 5 foot tall, but shes one tough woman, Livingston said. I dont see how she did what she did.
He laughed at recalling her concern in the hospital about the condition of the house from the struggle and the blood on the carpet. Livingston said his wife kept the house immaculate and was worried about the mess the deputies found.
His wife, a homemaker, is the best cook, he added.
She makes the best coconut pies, said Livingston as tears filled his eyes.
Livingston said he has no idea what came over his grandson. Authorities said Cook was intoxicated when his grandmother confronted him about his drinking and about drinking at their home.
But Livingston said the attack was unprovoked, and his wife had not been on his grandson about drinking. He also said his grandson had only a few beers that night. Livingston said he thinks Cook has some sort of mental disorder.
Most of the time hes fine, but 5 percent of the time, his grandson is like a completely different person, Livingston said.
I think he got upset at work, had few, a couple of beers, to get calmed down, then snapped and went off his rocker, Livingston said.
Livingston, who said he loves his grandson, said he would like authorities to keep him away from the public until they can get him help.
He does have one question.
Why? asked Livingston as tears again welled up in his eyes. I cannot figure out why he did it. I had no animosity toward the boy at all. My wife didnt have any animosity to him. Why? It just dont make sense.
To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.