HOUSTON (AP) — A Houston-area school district police officer who was wounded during a campus shooting that killed 10 people has been discharged from a hospital.
John Barnes, 49, was released Wednesday but faces months of rehabilitation after a shotgun blast tore through his elbow during the May 18 massacre at Santa Fe High School, the Houston Chronicle reported.
The Santa Fe ISD police officer is among a dozen others who were injured during the school shooting last month. The 17-year-old suspected gunman remains in custody and faces capital murder charges.
Barnes was investigating a noise disturbance with another officer, Gary Forward, when he encountered gunfire. Someone had pulled a fire alarm and suddenly a bullet struck Barnes.
Forward immediately secured Barnes’ damaged elbow in a tourniquet to stem the bleeding long enough to remove him from the line of fire.
“Gary Forward saved my life,” Barnes said. “He put that tourniquet on me. Had he not done that, I would have bled out within minutes. Had he not been right there with me, I would have died.”
Officers who arrived at the scene rushed Barnes to a medical helicopter, where he flatlined once and again in the operating room.
Barnes underwent three surgeries at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. The damage caused by the shotgun had turned Barnes’ elbow into what his wife, Ashley Barnes, called a “jigsaw puzzle,” but doctors were able to reconnect his damaged artery with a vein from his leg. They also restored blood flow to his arm and its wounds were healed by grafted skin.
Once he began recovering from his physical injuries, Barnes had to grapple with the trauma from the shooting.
“I wanted to know I did it right. I wanted to know no one got shot or injured because of the actions I took,” he said.
People from across the country sent cards wishing him well and a dozen police officers escorted Barnes home from the hospital Wednesday. A fire truck hoisting an American flag in his honor waited for him in his neighborhood.
“I really want people to know I felt all of that support and it has helped in my recovery a great deal,” Barnes said. “Me and my family greatly appreciate that.”