Deputy Eddy Luna’s fight for physical and emotional survival after the gun smoke cleared
“Everything was in slow motion, and I saw a flash. Suddenly I was down on my stomach, but I didn’t even know I was shot.”
Editor's note: On August 14, 2022, Deputy Eddy Luna, whose arm was amputated after a 2020 shooting, was honored by throwing the first pitch during First Responder Appreciation Day with the Texas Rangers. Comal County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Eddy Luna had a smile on his face as he walked out onto the field, throwing the ceremonial first pitch before the game against the Seattle Mariners. In the article below, Lt. Dan Marcou interviews Deputy Eddy Luna to find how out he survived his traumatic injury and the survival lessons he would like to share with his fellow brothers and sisters in law enforcement.
Hundreds of times a year we hear news reports of, “An officer was shot and is in critical condition….” For the listeners, this is where the story ends. However, for the officers living through these events, the news signals only the beginning of their fight for survival.
In this article, we look at one officer’s intense struggle for physical and emotional survival after the gun smoke cleared.
Deputy Eddy Luna
Eddy Luna can’t remember wanting to be anything but a police officer. He said, “When I was little, and I was playing cops and robbers with my friends, I always insisted on being a cop.”
As an adult, he served four years as an Army Airborne trained, a member of the 9th Infantry Division (not an Airborne Division) stationed at Fort Lewis. After his enlistment was up, he entered his career as a deputy with the Comal County Sheriff’s Office in New Braunfels, Texas, the community he was born and raised in.
Eddy served honorably for 29 years with this department. For the past 15 years, he worked as a warrant officer before his life-changing encounter with Bryan Scott Sharp.
Warrant attempt one and two
In March 2020, Deputy Eddy Luna and his partner Nick Nolte (no relation to the actor), made their first “attempt to locate” Bryan Scott Sharp because of an outstanding warrant for eluding. At that time, there was no response at his residence.
The two officers returned in May 2020 for a second time and once again received no response. However, as Eddy’s partner Nick scouted the property, he spotted 10 marijuana plants being cultivated in Sharp’s yard. After they searched the large property for Sharp and returned to the garden, they found the marijuana plants ripped up and thrown over the fence onto the adjacent property.
Luna said it was obvious Sharp had been hiding on the large property and was deliberately avoiding them.
On August 20, 2020, Deputy Luna and his partner once again headed toward Sharp’s home in another attempt to locate Sharp. While en route, by chance eddy met his brother Rene, a civil process server for the Comal County Sheriff’s Office. Eddy asked Rene to assist them in this warrant attempt and Rene happily agreed to help out his big brother and Nick.
When they arrived in the area, Rene and Nick approached from opposite sides while Eddy approached the driveway. Sharp’s dog alerted his master of the deputies’ approach. Eddy spotted a man he knew from photos to be Bryan Scott Sharp bolt into the residence, slamming the door.
For an hour and a half, Eddy and Nick communicated with Sharp, attempting to persuade him to come out peacefully. The suspect refused, warning the deputies if they did not leave his property, he would charge them per minute for being on his property. Eddy thought this funny at the time.
Finally, Nick and Eddy approached the door and began continually pounding on it in an attempt to send a message that they were not going away. This annoyance sometimes worked to bring people out. “After a time,” Eddy said, “the door opened! And Nick shouted ‘Gun!’”
Eddy and Nolte both moved laterally to avoid being shot. Eddy described later, “Everything was in slow motion, and I saw a flash. Suddenly I was down on my stomach, but I didn’t even know I was shot.”
Survival phase one
Deputy Luna tried to get up but realized his right arm did not work. He felt no pain even as he looked at his right arm and saw it to be mangled. His right arm was hanging limp by some skin and a tendon.
At this moment Eddy consciously refused to think about anything but surviving. He had learned from both his military and police training to control his breath and stay calm. Staying as calm as possible, Deputy Luna picked up his dangling right arm and secured it to his body with his left arm. He rolled up and onto his feet and ran out of the kill zone to a ridge line for cover. He reached his brother Rene’s location where he said, “I sat down on a flat rock, near him still holding my arm in place.”
Eddy recalled, “At first Rene looked shocked, but recovered instantly and called in the situation very accurately and calmly.”
With that done, knowing more help was coming, Eddy told his brother, “You have to put a tourniquet on my arm!”
Rene wasted no time and acquired and applied a tourniquet. As he tightened it, Eddy said, “I felt the worst pain I have ever felt in my life. So, I asked my brother to move it up higher on the arm, which he did right away.”
Eddy learned later the initial placement of the tourniquet hurt so much because his humerus bone was shattered by the shotgun blast and Rene had unknowingly tightened the tourniquet down on the shattered bone. Eddy said that in spite of that, his brother undoubtedly saved his life by applying the tourniquet. Because as Eddy remembered, “I was losing a lot of blood.”
Hearing the “Shots fired! Officer down!” radio call, two SWAT officers responded and were able to gear up. They made verbal contact with Sharp and talked the suspect out of his house with his hands up. Sharp was taken into custody without further incident.
Survival phase two
Advanced medical care was summoned to the scene and Eddy was medivacked out by helicopter. Deputy Luna remembered the entire flight, during which he kiddingly asked the medics not to cut off his new boots and new vest. They accommodated him on the boots, but when they started cutting off his vest he chided them, “Come on, man, there’s Velcro. Just take it off.”
After Eddy’s new vest was cut off, the medics continued to control his bleeding. They administered three units of blood before they reached the hospital.
Survival phase three
Eddy does not remember the first three days after his wounding. However, when he awoke, on the third day, he was surprised to discover that the doctors had tried to save his arm. Now, having failed in these efforts, they were planning on amputating it.
Eddy said, “I was OK with that because I saw how messed up it was. I was surprised that they had not already taken it.”
After the amputation of his arm, the months that followed included 15 surgeries, dealing with “phantom pain” from an arm that was not there, and of course endless rehabilitation.
Eddy was fitted for and trained with two replacement right arms. One he described as a “claw,” that allowed for some very basic functions.
Deputy Luna is still training with his second right arm, which is a state-of-the-art robotic titanium prosthetic arm. He controls it with his own nerves that allow him to accomplish five basic functions. He said, “It’s high-speed and super cool!”
One thing anyone talking with Deputy Eddy Luna notices is that he clearly has put his life on a positive path post-injury. He shared how he achieved this attitude:
- His department supported him from the start.
- His community (his hometown) supported him as well.
- His wife was there for him every minute, caring for him and taking him to surgeries and rehab.
- His family also gave him love and support. He has one son, who is a deputy, another son, who is a jailer, and his daughter, who is a sergeant in the army, stationed currently in Poland. It’s hard to be down when you are a proud father.
- Every time he starts down a negative emotional path Eddy snaps himself out of it by telling himself, “Some people have it much worse than me. Some people have no arms and no legs. Considering that, I am lucky.”
- He realizes he came close to death and is very glad to be alive.
At the time he was wounded, Eddy described his longtime assignment as a warrant officer as, “The best job in law enforcement.” He had no intention of retiring. After he was wounded, he even initially thought he would go back. However, now he realizes that he must consider retiring and he is OK with that. He said that he had a great 31-year career, but life must go on.
Deputy Eddy Luna has some insights to share with other officers who might find themselves suddenly thrust into similar circumstances in the line of duty: “If you are seriously wounded and you have time to think about your death, you have time to think about your survival as well. So, think only about your survival!”
I am happy to end this article with a personal observation. After interviewing Deputy Eddy Luna about his wounding and recovery I am happy to report it is a case of, “Shots fired! Officer’s up!”