SC deputy shot 6 times says surviving is 'a miracle'

Deputy Jeffrey DeGrow was shot in his right eye

Post and Courier

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Clearing a lump in his throat, Charleston County sheriff's Deputy Jeffrey DeGrow made his first public statement Thursday, one week after he was shot in the line of duty while chasing suspected burglars on James Island.

"One week ago from today, my life was changed forever, after being shot six times," he said. "It's truly a miracle, and God's grace, that I am still here today."

Though he's not sure if he'll ever regain full vision in his right eye, DeGrow said most of his wounds will heal over time.

"My spirits are high and I am surrounded by my family and friends," he said. "I wanted to come here today to publicly thank everyone for their overwhelming support and prayers."

DeGrow went on to thank the men and women from the many police and rescue agencies that responded to the shooting and helped chase down the alleged perpetrators. He also thanked the staff at Medical University Hospital, the Coastal Crisis Chaplaincy, Old Fort Baptist Church and Crossroads Community Church. He made a special point of thanking those who contributed to the Deputy DeGrow Relief Fund set up at Carolina Federal Savings Bank.

DeGrow had answered a routine burglary call Jan. 21 off Grimball Road and was patrolling the neighborhood for suspects when he spotted a group of men. Three of them ran when they saw him. DeGrow got out of his cruiser and started a foot chase.

During the chase, DeGrow pulled out his Taser, but one of the men was armed with a gun and opened fire on DeGrow, who was rushed to the trauma center at Medical University Hospital as his colleagues launched a search for whoever had shot one of their own.

After an intensive manhunt, three suspects were arrested. Brandon Simmons, 21, was being held without bail on a charge of assault and battery with intent to kill in the shooting. His brother, Theodore Simmons, 20, and a cousin, Curtis Williams, 20, are charged with misprision of a felony.

Investigators have not found the handgun used in the shooting. Sheriff Al Cannon said they still don't know what kind of gun was used to shoot DeGrow. "From the wounds, we feel like it was small-caliber," Cannon said. "From a number of perspectives, we feel like it was a revolver."

Cannon said there were fragments removed from DeGrow's injuries and fragments that remain inside him. None of the fragments available to investigators are of sufficient weight or shape to be of value in helping to determine the type of round that was used, he said

Cannon and DeGrow expressed gratitude to Grimball Road area residents who phoned in tips.

DeGrow was released from the hospital Monday. Doctors plan to leave one of the bullet fragments in his brain until the swelling goes down. As he was ushered into the news conference Thursday, DeGrow pulled out a handkerchief and wiped his blood-stained right eye. He read from a prepared statement, and the media had been forewarned that he would not be taking questions.

"I have a long road ahead of me," DeGrow said, his voice trembling. "But the Lord gives me strength, and above all, to never give up."

Copyright 2010 Post and Courier

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