Franklin County Deputy Trevor T.J. Wild is "continuing to improve" since he was shot in the shoulder Saturday, Dec. 30, during an armed standoff at a New Haven man's home, Sheriff Gary Toelke said.
The New Haven man, 23-year-old Jeremy G. Klott, 203 Bates St., died after shooting himself with a handgun, authorities said.
Wild, an 11-year veteran with the sheriff's department, suffered three to four broken ribs in the shooting and is recovering at St. John's Mercy Medical Center, Creve Coeur, where he was transferred by air ambulance, Toelke said.
Toelke said he believes it's been more than 35 years since a Franklin County peace officer was wounded in the line of duty.
"We've had a lot of close calls over the years," Toelke remarked. He said the last officer shooting he recalls happened in the late 1960s when a New Haven officer was wounded after stopping some suspects in a bank robbery. That officer did recover.
Klott fatally shot himself after firing a volley of 13 to 20 rounds from an SKS assault rifle at Wild's patrol car and a New Haven police cruiser, Toelke said.
The standoff began about 2:30 p.m. and ended about 10:10 p.m. when members of the sheriff's Emergency Response Team (ERT) and the Highway Patrol's SERT squad stormed the home after firing tear gas through windows.
Klott's girlfriend contacted New Haven police about 2:30 and told them that Klott had threatened her with a shotgun when she returned home with a pizza.
New Haven police officers and county deputies responded to the scene and positioned themselves around the residence while Wild parked his car on Bates and called the suspect on his phone. Klott did not answer.
Wild was crouched behind the door of his cruiser when he saw the suspect opening a window, Toelke said. Wild raised up slightly and yelled to warn New Haven Officer Meg Parks who was near the home, and that's when Klott opened fire with the assault rifle, the sheriff said.
After that initial volley, it's believed that Klott shot himself once with a handgun. Parks reported hearing a single shot, then a thud, inside the house, Toelke said.
Klott had been depressed over personal matters and threatened suicide previously, Toelke said.
"He had a run of bad luck and had been drinking heavily for at least three days," Toelke said. "His family had been trying to help him."
After Wild went down, Deputy Jason Schuster and Chad Sloan, an off-duty Washington police officer who lives in New Haven, risked being shot and dragged the wounded officer about 40 yards to the cover of an earthen berm where he could be treated by New Haven ambulance personnel.
"They did an outstanding job," Toelke remarked about the officers and ambulance personnel.
Parks, meanwhile, was alongside the house and would have been exposed to possible gunfire if she tried to run, Toelke said.
After about an hour, a team of ERT and SERT members arrived and employed shields to move in and lead Parks to safety, the sheriff explained. She was not injured.
Officers evacuated residents from several nearby homes and tried for several hours to contact the suspect by phone and bullhorn without success.
"There were no hostages inside the home as far as we could tell, so we made every effort to end it (standoff) peaceably," Toelke said.
There also was a delay in using tear gas until a special highway patrol armored vehicle was brought to the scene to shield officers. That vehicle, which was in Kirkwood, has a top speed of 40 miles an hour, the sheriff explained.
When ERT officers entered the residence and found Klott, they also located a shotgun, the semiautomatic rifle and a handgun.
Toelke said when officers first arrived at the scene, they planned to knock on the front door, but then decided to call the house instead.
Wild initially was transported to St. John's Mercy Hospital by New Haven Ambulance and then transferred to St. John's in Creve Couer.