Officers recount shootout

John Ford

Both police officers wounded in the March 16 shootout talked about their experience with the Neosho Daily News.

Dan Cook, an eight-year veteran with the Neosho Police Department, told the Daily News four days after the incident he will likely carry a bullet in his left arm the rest of his life.

“The doctor told me they’re going to leave it in,” he said. “I think it will be a permanent souvenir.”

Cook said a surgeon at Joplin’s Freeman West Hospital sad it would be less harmful to leave the bullet in the arm than to try to remove it.

Cook recounted the events leading up to the shooting, adding he noticed that Adam Bridgewater’s behavior was unusual at the time of the traffic stop.

“They taught us from Day 1 at the academy that sometimes when the hair on the back of your neck goes up, you have to listen to that inner voice,” he said. “I just had this feeling when I walked up to the car. He wouldn’t roll down his window, wouldn’t shut the car off. The way he had his seat back, I could see he had something in his hands and he dropped it down in his lap.”

Cook said he approached alongside the vehicle, but stopped between the rear of the Blazer and the door. He then again saw the object the suspect had — a gun — and turned to take cover. Bridgewater then fired through the rolled up window of the Blazer, Cook said.

“It’s just like they say on TV, it happens in a fraction of a second,” Cook said. “From the time I saw he had a gun to the shot was a fraction of a second. But it was the time I needed to get out of the path.

“I’m fortunate that he didn’t roll the window down when he shot at me. Between the window and the door frame that he had to get through to shoot at me, it deflected the bullet, slowed it down quite a bit.”

Cook said at first he thought he was cut by flying glass, that the bullet had slowed down enough to deflect off of his arm. But in the hospital later, an X-ray showed the slug in his lower left arm.

A few weeks after he was shot in the face, Patrolman Mike Sharp recounted his experience in the Neosho Daily News, including hearing the news that his sergeant, Dan Cook, had been shot.

“I heard ‘shots fired, shots fired! I’ve been hit!” he remembered. “Dan said “I’m OK! I’m OK! Go get him!”

Sharp began to pursue the SUV, sighting it as he came up Mallard Drive. He remembers easing up a bit when the Blazer came up to the hill on Missouri Highway 86.

“When I came up over the hill, he mashed down on the brakes,” the patrolman remembered. “The next thing I saw was a muzzle flash, and I realized I’d been hit. It took a few seconds for everything to sink in. Everything was in slow motion.”

Sharp then felt his face, and notified other units the direction the SUV was traveling.

“At first I thought ‘Did it blow my face off?’ ” Sharp recalled. “My first instinct was ‘Oh God, I’ve been hit!’ But not at one point did I think I was going to die. I knew the possibility was there, that I might die because of where I’d been hit. But I basically tried to keep a positive attitude. I knew I didn’t want to die, because I have so much to live for, and that’s what I concentrated on.”

Both men have since made a full recovery from the incident.

Neosho Daily News