Georgetown, KY – A deputy who was shot in the back while apprehending a fugitive will be left mostly paralyzed from his wounds.
“Doctors say at this point Jaime is 90 percent paraplegic,” Scott County Sheriff Tony Hampton told reporters assembled for a press conference on Monday afternoon.
Sheriff Hampton said that Deputy Jaime Morales, who is still in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital, was expected to be transferred to a rehabilitation facility later in the week.
“He will remain in ICU until chest tubes can be removed and then will go to a final rehabilitation facility,” Sheriff Hampton said. He explained that the name of the facility would not be made public.
Officials have said 28-year-old Deputy Morales was assisting federal agents in the apprehension of a wanted man at about 10 p.m. on Sept. 11 at a rest stop on Interstate 75 when a gunfight broke out, WKYT reported.
Scott County deputies and Georgetown police officers had been helping the U.S. Marshals in a search for a serial bank robber who was wanted out of Sarasota, Florida, when deputies spotted the fugitive, 57-year-old Edward Reynolds, according to WLKY.
The Scott County – Georgetown Special Response Team attempted to make contact with Reynolds, and then confront him, WKYT reported.
That’s when Reynold opened fire, and Deputy Morales was wounded. He was shot one time in the back.
Special Response Team members returned fire and Reynolds was fatally shot. The Scott County coroner pronounced him dead at the scene of the incident, WKYT reported.
Deputy Morales was rushed to the hospital where he underwent emergency surgery on one of his lungs twice in 24 hours. He had been wearing his ballistic vest when he was shot.
“Things like this just don’t happen. They’re not supposed to happen but it’s inherent with this profession and what we do that it can happen,” Sheriff Hampton told reporters.
The sheriff said his department has set up a bank account to collect donations for Deputy Morales’ medical and living expenses, which were expected to be extensive. They have also set up a GoFundMe account and were having a t-shirt sale to raise money for the severely wounded deputy.
The fundraising campaigns all carry the slogan #217Strong because 217 is Deputy Morales’ badge number.
“I can tell you right now donations are going to help a lot because Jaime is going to need a lot of resources in the upcoming weeks, months, I don’t know how long,” Sheriff Hampton told reporters.
Deputy Morales was a corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps and has been with the Scott County Sheriff’s Office since 2016, WLEX reported.
“He’s been an outstanding deputy… he carries a lot of qualifications that you want to see in a deputy sheriff,” Sheriff Hampton said at the press conference the day after Deputy Morales was shot.
The sheriff said it was the first shooting of a deputy in his own 24-year career with the Scott County Sheriff’s Office.
“I think what you can take away from this is that law enforcement in general is a dangerous career, it doesn’t matter how big or how small the community you’re in,” Sheriff Hampton told the assembled reporters.
“We’re in the fastest growing county in the state – Scott County has been for the past four or five years – we have two major interstates that run through here… so the potential for anything to come through as you see last night did,” he said.