Apparently, Tennessee has adopted a Mississippi town as a part of Tennessee!!!

Shot Tennessee Rookie Relied on Training

Posted: July 14th, 2006 10:33 AM PDT

The Commercial Appeal

A rookie police officer who was shot on the morning of June 29 said "everything went into slow motion" when he and his partner were wounded in Olive Branch.

Doug Stanek, 26, who had graduated from the Mississippi Law Enforcement Officers Academy only two weeks before he was shot, said the training he received helped him make it through the shooting.

"It had been a fairly slow night. It was a pretty easy, laid-back night," he said, noting that he and Patrolman Mark Ayers, 36, his field training officer, were on their way back to the station when Ayers suggested they check out Olive Branch's City Park.

But Stanek said he spotted a vehicle parked on Goodman Road about 4:30 a.m. and decided to check it out first.

Stanek went to the driver's side window of the car.

"I wanted to see what he was doing," he said. "I said, 'Sir, is everything OK?' He said he was lost ... then he turned around and shot me."

The car was dark as Stanek approached and he said he had only a vague recollection of "seeing something in his hand" as the shooter turned on him. He had no details on the weapon.

Stanek said he could not remember details in the immediate aftermath of the shooting. "It all happened so fast. It happened so quick. Everything seemed to be in slow motion. I knew I had to get out of the way and I had to help my partner."

Ayers, who had also exited the police cruiser toward the rear of the Chrysler that Stanek was checking, had been hit twice - once in the back and once in the left side.

"I heard him yell, 'Shots fired! Officer down!' " but Stanek said he had no recollection that Ayers cried out as he was wounded.

"I knew Mark was on the other side (of the car)."

Stanek, who was wearing a protective vest, was hit once in the lower left side of the chest. He had no recollection of falling to the ground, but he said he had abrasions on his left forearm after the shooting.

He said he returned fire "until the threat was gone" as the assailant fled, then turned to Ayers and began helping him. Ayers had not been wearing a vest.

Police Chief Art Heun said Stanek's immediate emergency treatment of Ayers likely saved the officer's life.

"He did everything by the book," Heun said. "Strictly by the book, down to the letter."

Ayers remains in a step-down critical-care section at the Regional Medical Center at Memphis. He is paralyzed from the neck down, but can converse with his limited number of visitors and is slowly making progress, Heun indicated.

"I'm concerned for him. I'm praying for him," Stanek said, but he said he had not yet visited with Ayers.

He said he had been helped by the outpouring of support from the community with money collected to help Ayers, as well as support for himself.

"This community has been great. You can't beat the community," he said.

Meanwhile, the shooter remains at large, but Maj. Don Gammage said he remains the department's top priority for detectives and uniform officers alike.

"I have faith in God and I have faith in this department," Stanek said. "We'll get him ... matter of time."

Stanek was born in Wiesbaden, Germany, moved to Memphis in 1988, and graduated from White Station High School in Memphis. He said he had served as a paramedic for four years before joining the Police Department.

"I had responded to some shooting calls before (as a paramedic), but I had never treated a gunshot victim before. Everybody was already dead when we got there," he said.

But he said all the training he had had came back to him. "Everything came back. It saved my partner's life," he said. "The training kicked in."

Stanek has been asked to talk with state academy classes on the value of wearing a bulletproof vest.

He said he will also tell prospective officers, "You can never be complacent in this line of work, not just at night, you can't be complacent any time."

Stanek at one time weighed 375 pounds. He said the weight blocked his vision for a career in law enforcement.

He had gastric bypass surgery, attended classes at Shelby State, went through the paramedic program at Northwest Mississippi Community College and now is enrolled in a criminal justice program at Northwest.

"I had wanted a career in the emergency services field," he said. "Now I'm here until they kick me out."

- William C. Bayne: (662) 996-1408

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BTW, this fund raiser for Mark Ayers and his family is something I wanted to share with you, in case you would be interested in donating.