As deputy recovers from shooting, his wife joins campaign for bulletproof patrol vehicles
PROVO — After a gunman wounded her husband and killed another officer, the wife of Utah County sheriff's deputy Greg Sherwood says bulletproof glass could have protected them both.
Sherwood, a K-9 officer, was shot while driving, pursuing the man believed to have shot Sgt. Cory Wride when he pulled up behind his vehicle on the side of state Route 73 on Jan. 30. Both men were shot sitting in the driver's seat of their patrol cars.
"If (Greg Sherwood) would have had that protective windshield, and if Cory had, Cory would be with us, and Greg would be out patrolling with the dog," Gina Sherwood said Monday after visiting her husband in his now familiar hospital room at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center.
Within hours of the shooting, the fallen officer's family began to wonder whether more protection on his squad car would have made a difference, and they began a campaign to get bulletproof police vehicles.
Gina Sherwood says she is "100 percent" behind the idea.
"They need it," she said. "(Nannette Wride) and I talked about that the day after Cory was killed, and I told her I have her back and we're going to do it together."
The Wride family has a petition on the White House's "We The People" website seeking support for the bulletproof glass, aiming for 100,000 signatures by March 7.
The Utah County Sheriff's Office is evaluating options for better protecting the patrol cars — which range from placing a bullet-resistant film on the glass to completely replacing the windows with armored ones — as well as options to pay for them.
From reports he has seen, Utah County Sheriff's Sgt. Spencer Cannon said upping vehicle protections could cost between $3,000 and $15,000 for each of the department's 50 or more patrol vehicles.
"(Wride and Greg Sherwood) certainly would not have been shot through the windshield had they had bulletproof glass or some kind of protective glass," Cannon said. "We have a hard time saying that there is a cost that would be too expensive to protect them."
Budget realities will be a major factor in whatever protection the department decides to seek, Cannon said. Any donations, sponsorships or other funding will be gladly considered.
"The Utah County government runs a pretty tight ship financially already, so there's not a lot of wiggle room for extra expenditures that come up unexpectedly, but they're going to be looking at it," said Cannon, explaining that while there is no timeline set for when fortifications could be purchased, the department will push to do it this year, if possible.
In the days since the shooting, the Sherwoods have expressed their appreciation and sympathy for the Wride family, knowing their situation could have easily been the same.
"His thoughts were that Cory was a better man than he was, and he wished he could have traded places with Cory," Gina Sherwood said. "He just feels bad for the family. He feels bad for Cory. He just worries about everybody."
While her husband's physical recovery is progressing well, the emotional healing will take more time, Gina Sherwood said. As she has sat in the hospital with her husband, she has seen a "roller coaster" of emotions.
Mostly, they have talked about the details of the shooting, which Greg Sherwood remembers vividly though can't yet recount in full in case charges are filed against a 17-year-old girl who was with the gunman through the chase and shooting spree that crossed two counties.
Jose Angel Garcia-Juaregui, 27, who police believe pulled the trigger on Wride and Greg Sherwood, died after a gun battle with officers south of Nephi.
"He remembers everything that happened," Gina Sherwood said. "He remembers finding the car and going after it. He said all of a sudden he heard glass breaking, and it felt like he had been hit in the head with a sledgehammer."
Gina Sherwood said she believes the pair had slowed down deliberately to draw her husband closer. Blinded by the shot, Greg Sherwood then scrambled to locate his radio, fearing the gunman might approach to finish him off.
Doctors have removed a bullet from Greg Sherwood's head, where it was lodged between his skull and his brain, Gina Sherwood said. No long-term damage appears to have been done, and her face lights up as she recounts how her husband now frequently wanders the halls in his hospital gown, teases the nurses and constantly jokes about being too cold.
Greg Sherwood will soon be moved to a rehabilitation area of the hospital. After that, it could be 10 days before he goes home, Gina Sherwood said. The deputy intends to eventually return to work.
"It honestly doesn't scare me, but I might be different the first day back at work," said Gina Sherwood, noting she was raised by family members in law enforcement. "I know it's a job he loves to do and he's going to continue to do, and I'm OK with it."
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