KERNERSVILLE, N.C. (WGHP) — A local officer is recounting the horrific moment he was shot in the face after a suspect took his gun.
Now on the road to recovery, Kernersville Police Officer Sean Houle is speaking publicly for the first time.
He tells FOX8 his faith and will to fight another day to get back to his family is what’s kept him going.
“I’m not going to be the guy who they look at me and they hear me talk angrily about the situation or express hate toward a person or anybody about the situation,” Houle said. “That would do the opposite of what’s been done, that would undo everything that’s been done.”
Head held high, faith unshaken, a walking testament — those are things Houle worked these past few months to become.
He said on that cold February night he was shot, he was giving another person a ride home when he attempted to arrest a suspect he saw that was known to KPD.
“I was already calling for assistance and it was during their response to me is when I was shot.”
A struggle ensued and the suspect took Houle’s gun — shooting him in the face and hand.
“I’m yelling in my head. ‘No,’ you know, like, ‘no, this can’t happen this way. It’s not supposed to happen this way,’” Houle said. “It’s like, I’m there that night and I’m kind of just hovering above myself and I’m just, I’m seeing, you know, things unfold and I’m seeing me laying there.”
The moments Houle lied there conscious felt like hours.
Then he said he felt God’s hand and a vision of his family appeared.
“Thinking about her, being my wife, being without her husband, my kids, my boys being out with me and without their dad. And then specifically my youngest boy, not knowing me,” he said.
It’s a moment he said saved his life.
He was rushed to the hospital where he would undergo months of serious surgeries.
“The first bullet went in my face here around my jaw area. It severed my carotid artery. So I was rapidly bleeding out. It also caused me to have a pretty large stroke on [the right] side of my brain which there’s brain damage there as a result of.”
As for his hand injury, he has a brand-new left hand with only four fingers on it.
“They basically built me a new hand. They took one of my fingers, removed my index finger here and moved it over and attached it to the bone of what used to be my middle finger with a rod,” Houle said.
Back at home, the Kernersville and surrounding communities rallied around Houle’s family, holding fundraisers at local businesses to help with medical bills.
It’s support Houle said got him through those tough days.
“I want everybody to know how thankful I am, how grateful I am, nothing that they did went unnoticed,” he said. “You impacted my whole entire family, and you were directly involved in my healing.”
As for whether or not he has plans to return to the badge.
“I have a lot of stroke therapy I have to go through, to get me to a point where, you know, it’s even safe for me to consider going back and doing what I was doing. Not only say for me but safe for the other officers that are around me,” Houle said. “But that’s what we’re working toward.”