May 29--A Sedgwick County Sheriff's deputy had been shot. "I just wanted to make sure Brian is OK," a friend on the phone told Sarah Etheridge, whose husband had been a deputy for less than a year.
Sarah tried to reach Brian just after noon on that final Monday in September 2009. He didn't answer.
She called 911, telling the dispatcher she wanted to make sure Brian was OK.
"She said, 'Can you hold on just a second, Mrs. Etheridge?' I heard her put the phone down, I heard her pick up another phone and say, 'His wife's on the phone. What do you want me to tell her?' "
She slumped to the kitchen floor in their small house in southwest Wichita, thinking, "What am I going to do?"
The worst fears of a law enforcement officer's spouse -- the moment she had dreaded since Brian announced he wanted to be a cop -- had become a reality.
The dispatcher kept talking to her, but most of the words went unheard.
"All I remember her saying is, 'They're sending officers to your home now. I need you to stay there.' "
She didn't want to, though. She wanted to jump in her car and go to Wesley Medical Center, where Brian had been raced by an ambulance escorted by patrol cars.
But she waited. And waited.
"I changed my clothes, brushed my teeth, let the dogs outside, paced around the living room, called my mom, called my best friend, talked to Brian's mom on the phone... and still nobody was there."
Brian's mother had called after she tried to return to work after lunch and discovered Rock Road had been blocked. She turned on the radio and heard a deputy had been shot, then called Sarah after she couldn't reach Brian.
"I didn't know what to say to her," Sarah would say. "I felt terrible. I felt bad that I didn't call her right away, but... I had no information.
"I asked the dispatcher, 'Is he alive?' Nobody knew."
A sheriff's deputy finally got her to Wesley at about 12:45 p.m., less than an hour after Brian was shot.
Waiting for Sarah in the emergency room was Justin Maxfield, one of Brian's classmates at the law enforcement training academy.
"They just took him to surgery, Sarah," he told her. "You just missed him."
Brian had been sent to a house on South Rock Road to take a larceny report and was shot twice -- once in the back and once in the foot, Maxfield told her. The man who shot him had called in a false report and waited to ambush the officer who responded, authorities said later.
But Brian was alert and had given officers information about the man who shot him.
And he was talking before he went into surgery, Maxfield told her.
"That's a good sign, right?" Sarah asked.
Law enforcement officials were encouraged enough to tell reporters gathered on South Rock Road near the shooting scene that they were optimistic about Brian's chances of recovery.
Sarah was taken to a small waiting room next to where Brian was undergoing surgery. Soon, her parents and Brian's parents joined her there.
The sound of the sirens shook Derek Purcell awake at his house in southeast Wichita, not far from McConnell Air Force Base.
He didn't think anything of them at first. He is a police officer, and sirens are the soundtrack of his profession.
When he checked his cellphone, however, it was jammed with messages: a deputy had been shot.
"At first I thought it was kind of a joke. It was my birthday, and I thought, 'That's not even that funny.' "
Not funny because Purcell had been shot twice by a man on Maple near Meridian on July 11, 2008.
One of the bullets shredded the femoral artery in his right leg, and Purcell nearly bled to death. Doctors said he was less than a minute from death when he reached the hospital.
After months of recovery and intensive therapy, Purcell returned to street duty the following January -- back to the same night shift and the same streets he worked the night he was shot.
He called dispatch on that Monday in September to find out what happened.