When Sgt. Dave Adams woke up for his shift as a watch commander for BYU Security Wednesday, he had a feeling there would be a bank robbery. But he didn't strap on his bulletproof vest.
He had recently hurt his left hand and thought it would be too much trouble to "truss himself up."He was right and wrong.
There was a robbery, and he should have taken the time to wear the vest.
Just a little after 10 a.m., he was shot while in his car by a man fleeing the scene of not one - but two bank robberies in Provo.
"I thought I was shot bad," said Adams, rubbing a raw spot on his chest as he waited for X-rays at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center. "Somebody looks out after me."
Adams had guardian angels working overtime Wednesday. Not only did the bullets that came through the window bounce off the steering wheel, only one hit him.
The gunman - who jumped from his car and started firing at Adams after Adams tailed him from the Zions Bank robbery - fired at least seven and possibly as many as 10 times. Three bullets went into the police car.
Glass and steel fragments hit Adams in the face but apparently did not do permanent damage to his eyes. Preliminary tests, however, indicate he may have some steel slivers in his brain.
Though he's now the subject of more publicity than he likes, he was back at work as usual on Thursday.
His first order of business will be to get the video camera in his patrol car working properly.
If it had been operational Wednesday, investigators would have had footage of the entire incident - footage that could have helped identify the suspect and provided evidence later on in court.
"I'd been telling them it was important to have that working. It's been down, and they reprogrammed it, but it still wasn't' working right," Adams said. "I'm not one to force people to do things, but I'm telling you, it's important."
Adams said he can give his fellow officers a pretty good description of the gunman. He had only seconds to react after realizing a gun was pointing at him.
"Unfortunately, I got too close to the bad guy," he said. "He jumped out. I saw the gun. He started shooting, and I dove for cover."
Adams said he didn't have time to draw his gun or to return fire. "Our key is, we go for cover first."
A veteran police officer, Adams, 44, said this isn't the first time he's been shot at. It is the first time he's been hit, however.
He served in Jackson, Miss., for 13 years before joining the force at BYU.
He's not surprised at the violence on the job in Provo.
"We're always assisting Provo, and both of us (departments) stay pretty busy. I woke up with a feeling there would be a bank robbery today. I thought it would be at Bank One because they've had one just recently. I was heading there when I got the call saying a car was leaving the Zions Bank parking lot at high speed.
"I tried to find a gold-colored car and move the traffic back until I got right behind him at the light. That's when he came out of the car."
Provo Police Capt. Keith Teuscher said the suspect being sought is "positively" the same man who robbed two Provo banks Wednesday.
The Wells Fargo Bank at 66 E. 1650 North was held up shortly after 10 a.m. followed by the robbery at Zions Bank at 1060 No. University.
In each case, a lone gunman entered the building, went behind the teller line and took money from the teller drawers into bags.
A Provo bike officer noticed the suspect leaving Zions and transmitted the information to Adams.
Orem police have also linked the suspect to a 9:37 a.m. robbery at the Bank One branch, 1220 S. State. Orem Police Sgt. Kris Hendrickson said police compared video images from each robbery and have determined the same man is involved. The man apparently wore several layers of clothing, discarding the top layer after each incident to try and confuse police.
The suspect is described as a white male in his early to mid-30s, medium build, 180 pounds, 5 feet 7 inches to 5 feet 9 inches with brown hair. He left the scene driving a gold-colored Toyota Camry or Avalon with California plates.
Provo police also believe the suspect purchased a 1988 dark blue Mazda two-door automobile at Last Stop Auto in Provo shortly after the robberies.
Teuscher said the photo of the suspect was taken from bank cameras and Adams has positively identified the man as the same one who opened fire on him.
Police initially thought the robber who shot Adams might be one of three suspects in a similar bank robbery committed the day before in Taylorsville. But sheriff's investigators now believe Tuesday's holdup was likely committed by a separate group.
Anyone with information is asked to call Provo police at 852-6210 or contact the FBI at 579-1400.