Derek Hamstra, a Whiteside County K-9 Deputy, exited CGH Medical Center in Sterling today to a crowd of cheering friends, family and first responders, three days after he was shot on duty. The first ones to greet him at the door were his children, and his K-9, Amor.
It’s a good end to what has been an emotional rollercoaster of a week for hundreds of people across Whiteside County and the state of Illinois. It all started in Morrison this past Monday when Deputy Hamstra and an Illinois State Trooper were searching for two suspects after a high-speed chase and crash. Police say that during the search, the state trooper accidentally fired his gun, shooting Deputy Hamstra in his left foot. The name of the trooper who accidentally shot Deputy Hamstra has not been released.
“It could’ve been a lot worse,” said John Booker, sheriff of Whiteside County. “We could be sitting here talking about a lot more damage to him, life-threatening.”
9-1-1 dispatchers in Whiteside County recall the scary moment from this past Monday too. They both say they have known Deputy Hamstra for years, and weren’t sure if he was alive when they received and sent out radio communications.
“When [we] say officer down, we feel they’re gone, they’re done,” said Monique McCaulley, one of the 9-1-1 dispatchers. “We [didn’t] have any idea where was it located, where was the shot, where was he hit at, or any of that.”
“It was hard, you know, because we’re like family here,” said Lexie Lindskog, another 9-1-1 dispatcher. “A lot of the time, you know, we spend more time at work than we do at home with our own families.”
Sheriff Booker says the calls from this past Monday could be traumatizing to many, and will stick with him for some time.
“When you hear shots fired, deputy down and emergency assistance, it’s the worst thing in the world as a sheriff you ever want to hear,” Booker said. “In a matter of seconds the job can change, the scenario can change, the incident can change, and, like this one.”
But for now, all is well in Whiteside County, and Deputy Hamstra will spend a few months at home resting before coming back to work. Sheriff Booker says that Deputy Hamstra was only a few weeks away from being promoted to sergeant before he was shot, and when he returns to duty in a few months, that promotion will be waiting for him.