Trooper Dean Atkinson Jr., who was shot and wounded in Walla Walla Thursday, Sept. 22, continues to undergo surgery at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. But he is expected to make a full recovery, said his father, Dean Atkinson Sr.
"There's nothing, according to the (Washington State Patrol), that would prevent him from reengaging (as a trooper), if he so chooses," Atkinson Sr. said in a brief interview Monday, Sept. 26.
While on duty, Atkinson was shot multiple times at close range at around 5 p.m. Thursday on West Poplar Street near the intersection with Avery Street, according to police officials.
He suffered multiple wounds to the face and his left hand, which he used to shield himself, Atkinson Sr. said. Atkinson Jr. is right-handed, and the damage to his left hand is reportedly expected to heal.
Atkinson Jr. then reportedly drove himself around a mile to the nearby Providence St. Mary Medical Center and walked into the emergency room.
Due to the life-threatening nature of his injuries, Atkinson Jr. was airlifted to Harborview. Several hours after he arrived, the Washington State Patrol announced Atkinson was in stable condition.
A suspect, Brandon D. O'Neel, 37, of Walla Walla, was arrested shortly after the shooting and has been charged with attempted first-degree murder with a firearm, first-degree assault with a firearm, and attempting to elude with a firearm.
Not only did Atkinson Jr. "miraculously" survive the shooting, but there also appears to be no permanent damage, Atkinson Sr. said.
"He has his hearing, there's no cognitive damage, he remembers all of the events that happened," Atkinson Sr. said.
For several days, he said his son was unable to communicate vocally, due to a breathing tube that had been inserted to assist due to swelling from injuries around his face, but the five-year veteran of the state patrol was able to communicate with gestures. The breathing tube was removed Monday, however, and Atkinson Jr. talked for a short while this morning.
There is one more surgery scheduled to repair damage from a bullet that went through Atkinson Jr.'s cheek, and then he will just need time to heal, his father added.
Due to ongoing COVID-19 policies at Harborview, only one visitor is allowed per patient in any 24-hour period, Atkinson Sr. added, and Atkinson Jr.'s mother, sister and fiancée returned home Sunday.
"I'm staying here until he goes home," Atkinson Sr. said.
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