A Washington State trooper shot in the face and hand during a Walla Walla confrontation Sept. 22 was released from the hospital in Seattle on Saturday, according to Harborview spokeswoman Susan Gregg.
After he was shot, Trooper Dean Atkinson Jr. drove himself less than 2 miles to Providence St. Mary Medical Center in Walla Walla. From there, he was flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle where he underwent surgery Wednesday to remove a bullet in his right cheek and repair a wound on the left side of his face, his father posted on Facebook.
Atkinson, a five-year WSP trooper, will continue his recovery in Walla Walla, according to a celebratory tweet by Trooper C. Thorson.
Dean Atkinson Sr. remained by his son’s side at Harborview, he told reporters last week.
Atkinson Sr. had been sharing updates about his son’s progress and recently said his son has been healing at an amazing pace. He should be able to return to work, his dad said.
“He is on a mission and wants to be home,” Atkinson Sr. posted on Thursday.
Support has flooded in for the wounded trooper who was visited in the hospital by U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and National Guard Brig. Gen. Daniel H. Dent. The Atkinsons both served in the National Guard, and for a time they served together.
“I don’t know how to thank each of you but by saying THANK YOU,” Dean Atkinson Sr. wrote. “I wish this upon no one and hope Dean Jr’s experience will inspire folks. He is a warrior and my kid.’
“He lives by the state patrol motto on every car ‘Service with Humility’ as well as their motto at academy ‘I will not quit, I will not die, I will survive,’ ” wrote his dad. “Most importantly this kid lives by his own motto ‘always come home’ and will be home very soon.”
A GoFundMe campaign organized by Jenny Mayberry has raised more than $51,000. People can contribute by going to bit.ly/AtkinsonFundraiser.
Brandon D. O’Neel, 37, was arrested and is being held in the Walla Walla County Jail on charges of attempted first-degree murder, attempted first-degree assault and attempting to elude police.
Earlier in the day on Sept. 22, officers went to his apartment to serve an eviction notice. According to police records, O’Neel left a note on his door threatening to shoot any officer or manager who was sent to remove him.
He also left a sign that said, “Bomb,” according to court documents, though no explosives were found inside.
Later about 5 p.m., O’Neel reportedly stopped next to Atkinson’s patrol car on West Poplar Street near the intersection with Avery Street, got out of his car and allegedly fired four or five times at the trooper.
Atkinson apparently raised his hand in a defensive manner and was wounded in the hand and face.
Witnesses called 911 and local officers rushed to the scene.
O’Neel then drove off and was spotted on Highway 125 south of Walla Walla. According to police reports, he tried to lose the officers chasing him until he was stopped between Farmland Road and Old Milton Highway.
Walla Walla Officer Nat Small used his marked patrol car to stop O’Neel, causing a crash. O’Neel was not hurt and taken into custody, according to an updated statement from the Special Investigations Unit.
The Tri-Cities-based unit uses specially trained investigators from other law enforcement agencies to investigate violent incidents involving officers.