Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Ambushed Deputy Praises Family; amid Early Morning Mayhem in a Quiet St. Charles County Subdivision, They Tended to His Wounds

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Ambushed Deputy Praises Family; amid Early Morning Mayhem in a Quiet St. Charles County Subdivision, They Tended to His Wounds

Article excerpt

ST. CHARLES COUNTY - Sheriff's Deputy Mike Wilkins had no idea he was about to be shot.

In the five years he'd been working patrol, he'd never answered a call on Circle Drive, a loop around a quiet subdivision near O'Fallon, Mo. About 1 a.m. on July 25, he heard the dispatch about shots being fired in the neighborhood.

He and deputies in two other cars got to the street about the same time. The others drove straight ahead, Wilkins turned left.

As he got closer to the scene, Wilkins, 28, said he heard gunfire so rapid that it sounded like one continuous noise, more like a train than a rifle. Then suddenly, everything went quiet.

Wilkins called out on the radio to the other deputies, but they didn't answer.

"I had to assume the worst," Wilkins said.

As Wilkins pulled ahead in his unmarked Impala, bullets showered the patrol car.

Wilkins leaned over in the passenger seat to better protect himself, but bullets were hitting the windshield and ricocheting off the backseat divider in his car. Pieces of metal and glass were flying everywhere.

Wilkins threw the car in reverse and stomped on the gas, but he couldn't see where he was going from his hunched-over position and struck a tree.

Wilkins said he pushed the driver's door open and rolled out onto the ground.

"My face kind of felt like it was on fire, and I wasn't sure if I had been shot," he said. "I didn't realize until then I'd been hit two other places - in the left hand and bicep."

Covered in blood and having trouble seeing, Wilkins tried to pull his rifle out of his smashed-in trunk but couldn't. The deputy raced about 30 yards to the rear of a home and banged on the door.

Ronald and Karrie Copeland, along with their daughter Becky and granddaughter Emmersyn, were already awake from the gunfire. They took Wilkins inside.

"Mrs. Copeland cut my shirt sleeve open and wrapped a towel around my arm," he said. "She looked over my face and said the cuts were just from debris. Then she checked under my vest to make sure I didn't have any other injuries."

Wilkins told everyone to get to the basement where it was safer, and he called dispatch to let them know where he was. …

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