3/3/2017: (Press Release via Chief Deputy Derek Walrod) On March 2nd, Deputy Murray was moved out of ICU and into a regular room, his condition continues to improve daily. Deputy Murray has not been scheduled for surgery at this time. It is yet to be determined when they will schedule a time to remove the bullet. Your continued prayers and support are greatly appreciated and we will try and keep everyone updated on his progress as he continues to recover from his injuries.
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3/2/2017: Officials say the prognosis is good for a Jasper County deputy who was shot during a drug enforcement incident yesterday in Joplin. Law enforcement members described what happened as an "evil situation."
27-year-old Deputy Nolan Murray has been with the Jasper County Sheriff's Office for almost four years. Wednesday afternoon, Murray's future in law enforcement, and his role as husband and dad, almost came to a tragic end.
"When you have a fellow brother who you work with, who's laying on the ground, has been shot, and having difficulty breathing, and you see a lot of blood, it's a difficult time," says Jasper County Sheriff Randee Kaiser.
Nolan and about 10 other Ozark Drug Enforcement team members were trying to arrest 43-year-old EF Fitchpatrick, Jr., who was inside an Econo Lodge motel room.
"I don't know that we had any prior knowledge regarding this person's violent tendencies, or anything like that," says Kaiser.
Law enforcement workers were trying to enter Fitchpatrick's room. Joplin police say a shot was fired from inside the motel room, and a bullet went through one of Nolan's lungs, then lodged itself near his back. Kaiser says Nolan was wearing a bullet-proof vest.
"He was wearing it properly. As you know, the bullet-proof vest doesn't cover everything, and the bullet happened to just go through an area that wasn't covered," says Kaiser.
"Even if you seen an officer from an agency not even around here, who is shot in the line of duty, that bothers you," says Joplin Police Chief Matt Stewart.
"We probably had, I don't know, 500 people come to the hospital last night. We had a lot of pizza delivered to the hospital for everybody who was there. A lot of people volunteering to do what they can. It's just an overwhelming display of support. It just really means a lot," says Kaiser.
Surgery was scheduled for Murray today to remove the bullet from his back. Deputies say doctors have decided to postpone that surgery until Murray gets more strength.
Nonetheless, his prognosis remains good; this afternoon, he was moved out of intensive care.
The suspect in the shooting, EF Fitchpatrick, Jr., was found with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the face in his motel room, according to police. Mercy Hospital Joplin tells us he's in intensive care in fair to satisfactory condition. The 43-year-old St. Louis man has a criminal history that dates back more than 20 years, putting him in prison more than once. Fitchpatrick has previously been convicted for such crimes as heroin, burglary, and possession of an illegal weapon.
For yesterday's crimes, authorities expect to file charges of first degree assault, armed criminal action, and felony possession of a firearm. Police say no drugs were found in his motel room, but authorities did find scales and baggies.
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