DOBSON — An officer who was shot in the line of duty on July 23 still is recovering but has not yet returned to work.
Dobson Police Officer Brian Thomas is recovering from two gunshot wounds he received while responding to a domestic disturbance in the early morning hours of July 23 at the home of Lonnie and Leesa Badgett, at 412 Adams St., when Lonnie Badgett opened fire on Thomas.
“He’s recovering well. He’s up and getting around. He’s able to leave the house under his own power,” said Dobson Town Manager Josh Smith on Friday afternoon.
More than 13 shots were fired in the 30-second gun battle, according to Myers. After the smoke cleared, there were 11 bullet indentations in Thomas’ patrol car — two of Badgett’s rounds struck Thomas.
Lonnie Badgett was pronounced dead at the scene by Surry Emergency Medical Services. Badgett had three gunshot wounds, two in his chest and one to his arm, authorities said.
Thomas was wearing a bulletproof vest at the time of the shooting, however, according to Dobson Police Chief Shawn Myers, if Badgett had fired at Thomas’ chest, torso or back, he wouldn’t be alive today. Myers said Badgett was shooting large-caliber bullets that would have pierced the vest.
Thomas was shot twice in the left leg with high-caliber rounds — once in the lower shin and once in the upper thigh. Myers said the bullet in the upper thigh almost went all the way through Thomas’ leg.
Smith said Thomas will remain on paid administrative leave until the State Bureau of Investigation, which reviews officer-involved shootings, completes its investigation, then he will be placed on worker’s compensation by the town. When he is able to return to work, Smith said, Thomas will most likely be placed on light duty until his recovery is complete.
“He’s in good spirits. I’m sure he’d rather be at work than home recovering,” said Smith.
According to Myers, the disturbance escalated over the care of some dogs which had been left in the house during a recent trip.
The caliber of the bullets or number of rounds fired that morning has not been released because the shooting is still under investigation.
Thomas has been with the Dobson Police Department for the past four years.
Reach Mondee Tilley at email@example.com or at 719-1930.