Ala. officer saved by ballistic vest

A man fired at least three rounds from a handgun, with one round striking the officer in the upper chest


By Marty Roney
Montgomery Advertiser

PRATTVILLE, Ala. —  A Prattville police officer’s bullet-resistant vest is being credited with saving his life after he was shot Thursday afternoon answering a fight call.

“His vest saved him,” Police Chief Mark Thompson said.

Two officers responded to a domestic violence call in the 100 block of Patrick Street just before 2 p.m., the chief said. As they approached a group of people in the driveway, a man fired at least three rounds from a handgun, with one round striking the officer in the upper chest, Thompson said. The officer’s vest stopped the bullet.

“He’s a little bruised a little sore, but it’s a minor wound considering,” Thompson said. “He gets to go home tonight.”

The officers did not return fire, he said.

Thompson declined to identify the officer, other than saying he’s a “senior” officer on first shift, holding the rank of sergeant. The suspect fled into the home after the shooting, and the two officers heard a “pop” coming from the home.

“The U.S. Marshals were among those who responded and they have a robot,” Thompson said. “We sent the robot into the house and found the suspect, dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.”

Thompson would not identify the suspect, pending notification of next of kin. There was a woman in the home when the suspect went into the house but she wasn’t injured, Thompson said.

Dozens of local, state and federal law enforcement officers from throughout the River Region raced to Prattville when the call of “Officer down” went over the radio. Portions of the neighborhood were cordoned off, as an Alabama Law Enforcement Agency helicopter clattered overhead.

“We had the response begin in seconds,” Thompson said. “When the call goes out an officer has been shot; it’s a brotherhood, you always have help coming.”

Before sending in the robot to check out the situation in the home, SWAT teams put up a perimeter around the house. The situation was deemed “secure” about 2:50 p.m.

Prattville Mayor Bill Gillespie Jr drove to the scene early on in his personal pickup truck. He was driven to the home by a Prattville officer.

“It’s a good day and a sad day in Prattville,” he said, about two hours after the incident. “It’s good that our officer was wearing his vest, and that he will be okay. It’s sad that we lost a life. This man obviously was wrestling with problems.

“But we are very thankful our officer wasn’t hurt any more seriously than he was. And we are very appreciative for the response from all the law enforcement agencies in our area.”

All officers on the force are issued bullet-resistant vests and are required to wear them while on duty, Thompson said.

"This shows the importance of being aware on every call," Thompson said. "It shows the importance of wearing your vest and making sure you know where peoples’ hands are all the time"

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©2017 the Montgomery Advertiser (Montgomery, Ala.)


McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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