Monday, October 29, 2012

Officer talks about getting shot 12 times at Sikh Temple

Officer talks about getting shot 12 times at Sikh Temple 

The police officer who survived 12 gunshots fired by a man on a fatal rampage at a Sikh temple near Milwaukee says he focused on his training as he lay wounded in the parking lot and his assailant kept shooting: "In a high-risk incident, I will survive."

Oak Creek Lt. Brian Murphy was the first officer to respond to the shooting at the temple on Aug. 5, a quiet Sunday morning. He pulled into the parking lot and saw two men lying on the ground. He got out of his squad, walked over to check on them.  Murphy told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel he knew at least one was dead.

Then a man dressed in black pants and a white shirt came running toward him.

"As soon as I looked over, it was obvious to see that this more than likely had to be the guy (shooter), just by his dress," Murphy said in his first extensive interview. "And the fact he had a holster on his hip, kind of the giveaway. At that point, I drew down on him and told him, 'police.' I identified myself and told him to stop."

The two were just 30 yards apart when they both began firing. Murphy was armed with his .45-caliber service revolver.

"That's when he hit me in the face," Murphy said. The officer took cover behind a car. Then he was hit again and again and said he thought to himself, "I'm not going out like this. I'm not going out in a parking lot."

Three gunshots struck his protective vest. Eleven more hit his arms, hands, legs and the back of his head. As Murphy wedged himself under a car, the gunman stopped to reload. Neither man spoke.

"He didn't look enraged," Murphy says. "He didn't look anything other than very comfortable in what he was doing."

Murphy said he could hear other officers arriving at the scene and heard the first rifle shot fired by veteran officer Sam Lenda, a marksman. The gunman, Wade Michael Page, was hit, scrambled away and fatally shot himself.

Page had killed six Sikh worshipers and wounded three others.

After three months and three operations, Murphy continues his recovery. He faces additional surgeries but wants to get back to work.

"People always ask me: 'Do you flash back? Do you have nightmares?"' Murphy said. "My answer is no. I have none of that. I'm lucky and I touch wood. I'm very fortunate that way. But what I do look back at is what I could have done different. I have always been a big proponent, no reason to go over 70 miles an hour. You put others at risk. But if I could have gone 100, could I have stopped him from shooting just one other person?"

Murphy said he apologized to the Sikh temple members for not getting there sooner. He said members of the Sikh community visited him in the hospital and have been supportive. 

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