After Cpl. Gene Watkins got shot in the leg while chasing a suspect in north Tulsa in August, his fellow officers immediately came to his aid.
They got a tourniquet around his wound. Luckily, the bullet didn’t hit an artery or sever a nerve.
Police cleared the way at the scene near North Sheridan Road and East Pine Street for Watkins to be transported. The first thing he did once he was loaded up was call his family.
“I thought I was being cool when I was talking to my wife, telling her I was just in an accident,” Watkins said. “I didn’t want her to know that I got shot.”
The sirens going off in the background were a dead giveaway.
The suspect, Jeremie Kelly, 26, eventually shot himself in the head while police surrounded the home he was inside. The pursuit and subsequent standoff all started after an officer tried to stop Kelly’s vehicle to serve a warrant.
Kelly did not survive.
On Saturday, Watkins received the Purple Heart during the annual Tulsa police Heroes Awards ceremony. It was a bittersweet moment, he said.
“No officer ever takes joy when someone dies,” Watkins said. “I have to admit that I’m glad that I’m alive and got to go home to my family, but it’s a shame that it didn’t happen for both of us.”
Watkins was one of more than 70 officers who received recognition at the downtown Tulsa DoubleTree. Among the honors were the Lifesaving Award, Department Commendation, Chief’s Award and the Medal of Valor.
Capt. Catherine Reynolds received the Jennifer Mansell Humanitarian Award for her work to bring together police and the Tulsa Speech and Hearing Association, for which she is a volunteer.
With Reynolds’ help, TSHA was able to have a town hall-type meeting with police, deputies and other local law enforcement. She also served as chairwoman for this year’s Souper Sunday fundraiser.
Many students at Hoover Elementary also have Reynolds to thank for thousands of dollars’ worth of school supplies that she purchased herself.
Officers like Watkins, Reynolds and the many others recognized at Saturday’s event are the reason why the Tulsa Police Department takes such pride in its force, said Capt. Thom Bell, who is on the awards committee.
“Most officers are modest and humble, and they just consider it another day on the job,” he said. “But in reality, it’s the remarkable things that they’re doing that benefit our city that we want to highlight and recognize.”
The original article can be found here – courtesy of The Tulsa World.