PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — As he walked into the room, you’d never know Cpl. Jeremy Braun of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office still has 155 pellets in his body.
On August 8, he and Deputy Chris Iverson — along with others — confronted a man wearing camouflage clothing who allegedly stole guns from a house near Hagg Lake. Braun and Iverson were shot by the man, later identified as Dante Halling, who was also shot in an exchange of gunfire.
Iverson was treated, released and completed outpatient therapy.
But for Braun, the road to recovery has been quite a journey.
“If I had to capture my experience in one word, I would use the word ‘overwhelming,’ Braun said at a press conference Thursday. “The love I have received, the support given to my family and my teammates, all overwhelming.”
He also thanked his co-workers, contractors, home builders, the sheriff’s office, “the continued support of my wife, family,” all of it, he said, is overwhelming.
“We cannot possibly thank everybody.”
The day of August 8, 2019
Jeremy Braun said he and his family have “embraced the fact that when I go to work I may not come home.”
That morning as he left for work, he stopped in the road and kissed his kids. The son of one of his house contractors asked why he kissed his son in the road?
“The dad explained, ‘Well, he doesn’t know if he’s going to come back from work.’
“And I didn’t come back from work. We’ve always lived life with the understanding that I may not make it back home. I just didn’t understand how crappy that would be.”
That afternoon he responded to the call near Hagg Lake.
“I was shot at pretty close range with a shotgun. There were several shots. It was bird shot, so I’m still retrieving bird shot from my body.”
He was mainly hit in the left arm and neck. His left vocal cord is paralyzed. He’s had surgery to “reinvigorate that” so he can speak as clearly as he does, he said.
“Pellets travelled up and down through my body. Those pellets will be with me until the day that I die,” he said.
He had about 12 pellets removed, and a total of about 25 have come out, “including one that was between my tooth and my gum line.”
His wife, Joy, said they were building a house at that time and didn’t have any WiFi or phone. Her in-laws came by and told her about a shooting near Hagg Lake. A deputy came and picked her up.
“We drove up to OHSU and there’s just, like, an ocean of blue. It was very surreal, kind of like you see in the movies. But nothing like you see in the movies.”
The suspect, Dante Halling, faces 8 charges, including 6 counts of attempted murder. His trial is scheduled to begin April 21, 2020.
‘I don’t feel heroic’
Recently he and Iverson were honored at Banks High School by the Royal Rosarians, who stood and applauded them. But he said he was just doing his job and was embarrassed by the acknowledgement.
“I’m going to be honest. I feel like an idiot when people say what I did was heroic,” he told KOIN 6 News. “I feel like the guy who didn’t duck fast enough.”
Washington County Sheriff Pat Garrett said he respects and honors Braun’s feelings, he does think Braun is a hero “for what he did in August and every single day since then. And I doubt whether I would have the tenacity to power through what Jeremy has powered through.”
His wife said they’ve learned a lot about themselves, their marriage and their 3 kids. “It’s been a journey. It’s been a hard journey. It’s been a good journey.”
‘Guardian angels with bird shot in wings’
Braun said he plans to return to work.
“There’s other injuries you guys don’t know about but there’s a lot of things that could have kept me from coming back to work,” he said. “I’m coming back to work and I will serve this community again and I’m hoping to do it this year.”
He has learned to walk and swallow again and continues to make progress with physical therapy.
He called himself an anomaly. “There’s a couple guardian angels with bird shot in their wings.”
Braun said because of his scars he told his wife she’s now “married to a pirate.” Beyond the scars, though, this incident has changed him.
“I think I have a better understanding of trauma and working through trauma and looking at other people in trauma and realizing the hurt and pain,” he said.
It’s also a reminder of how other people’s decisions can affect others’ lives.
“Ultimately it’s the gift of life. Only the living have scars. I’ve survived a major ordeal and become a better person out of it.”
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