‘Nothing (short) of a miracle.’ Chief details shooting that injured two officers, gives update on their conditions
POCATELLO — Pocatello Police Chief Roger Schei provided an update Tuesday on the two officers shot during an incident last week.
Both officers, Demetrius Amos and Mackenzie Handel, continue to recover.
“This is an example of the realization of how dangerous this job really is,” Schei said during a press conference.
As he explained the incident, Schei provided a description of the injuries sustained.
Amos, he said, was shot in the abdomen and face. The bullet that struck his face, the chief continued, exited through his neck then reentered his chest.
He remains under medical care at Portneuf Medical Center.
Handel was struck in the abdomen and has been released to continue his recovery at home.
“This is probably the worst incident that I can think of that’s happened toward officers in my career,” said Schei, who has spent 27 years on the police force.
Originally from California, Amos is a former Idaho State University football player. He has spent six years with the Pocatello Police Department and is a member of the SWAT Team and a field training officer. He is also a POST certified instructor in general topics and high liability firearm training.
“It was a pretty brutal injury, so for him to be able to recover from that and be where he’s at right now is nothing (short) of a miracle. We’re grateful for that,” Schei said.
Handel is originally from Pennsylvania and a former member of the United States Marine Corps. He has been a Pocatello police officer for four years. He is also a member of the SWAT Team and field training officer and serves as the department’s taser instructor.
In total, 19 Pocatello police officers responded to the scene, along with two Idaho State Police troopers.
Five of the officers, Schei said, are in field training. They have been with the department for about two months, but each was working their third day of field training when the incident occurred.
As Schei explained, the department operates using a “decentralized command,” which was exercised perfectly following the incident.
“Everyone out there led,” he said. “There were decisions made, from the newest of people, that were three days in field training, all the way to the sergeants that were one the scene — quick decisions that probably saved lives.”
Among those decisions was the call to transport both officers to the hospital via squad car, rather than waiting on an ambulance.
That decision, he believes strongly, was the reason both officers survived.
“I’d like to also thank the doctors and nurses at Portneuf Medical Center for their quick response, and their fast thinking,” Schei added. “I was in the emergency room that night. To watch them work was amazing.”
He also commended the efforts of the four dispatchers working at the time of the incident.
“I’m telling you that all of these people kept their composure, in the face of adversity,” Schei said. “Their actions, from the reports that I’ve read and the videos that I have seen, are nothing short (of) heroic.”
The professionalism of the department was on full display following the incident as well, when dispatch received a 911 call. The caller reported a potentially violent domestic disturbance, involving a man, a woman, a baby and a gun.
“To watch those officers run out to face another unknown danger with a firearm, and to put what just happened behind them, was another example of these officers living up to our mission, our vision and our values,” Schei said.
Schei also provided a brief update into the investigation following the incident, which is being spearheaded by the Bannock County Sheriff’s Office with assistance from the East Idaho Critical Incident Task Force.
The shooter, Todd V. Brewer, remains under hospital care for wounds he received in the exchange of gunfire. He is listed in stable condition, according to Portneuf Medical Center spokeswoman Mary Keating.
As part of the investigation, law enforcement has reached out to “several different sources” about Brewer’s criminal history in Utah, where he is believed to be from. They are also investigating potential drug and alcohol involvement in the incident.
Bannock County Prosecutor Steven Herzog told EastIdahoNews.com that the plan is to charge Brewer with file two counts of felony aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer with deadly weapon enhancements. He did add that his office could seek other charges, following the investigation.
While both officers continue the process of recovery, Schei has asked anyone looking to donate to the medical care to contact the police union — Portneuf Valley Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 13.
He asked however, that the public respect the privacy of the officers and their families during their healing process.
Finally, Schei challenged the people of Pocatello and Idaho to combat the violence and division he believes has taken hold of the country.
“Get out and talk to your neighbors,” he said. “Get out and talk to your community. Get to know each other. Don’t be so quick to be angry with people.”
Too many people are quick to result to violence, he suggested.
“We need to come together as people. Get out of your cell phones and get out and talk to people … build relationships with people.”