ARLINGTON -- Wounded Arlington police detective Charles Lodatto said he knew immediately that he’d been shot through his femoral artery, but never believed it would kill him.
He limped slowly into a press conference Tuesday at Arlington police headquarters, alongside his wife, Chauntel, and FBI special agent Andy Farrell.
"Sitting here beside me is the true hero of this story," Lodatto started out, turning to Farrell.
The two have worked together for eight years, including the day last month when they were part of an FBI task force sent to arrest 17-year-old capital murder suspect Tyler Holder for allegedly raping and killing Saginaw 6-year-old Alanna Gallagher.
Holder allegedly shot Lodatto as they were serving the warrant in the entryway of the home, two houses down from Gallagher's.
"He bear hugged a guy with a gun," Lodatto said of Farrell.
They weren’t wearing heavy body armor because they wanted Holder to talk to them before they produced the arrest warrant.
"He said he wasn't going to talk to us,” Farrell recalled. “I stepped to him then, and said, 'We have a warrant. You're coming with us.' He produced a gun. I was very close to him."
Farrell tackled the suspect as shots were fired.
"While I was wrestling, the gun went off," he said.
Holder was shot in the head; Lodatto in the groin.
"I saw the blood shooting out of my pants," Lodatto said.
One officer pulled off his shirt to bandage the wound. Farrell used a belt as a tourniquet, then talked himself hoarse to keep his friend alert.
"I told him to stay with us, to fight through this, that he would be OK," Farrell said.
Lodatto, the detective of the year in Arlington last year, repeatedly said his faith allowed him to stay calm. He even took time to witness to firefighters and MedStar paramedics trying to save his life. He said it seemed like a good opportunity.
"He looked at the fire fighter and me and he literally asked if we were right with God,” said Tim Penic, one of the first responders. “I'm not a particularly religious person. I told him I’m not, but I envy your faith. But I don’t have any."
Penic spoke to News 8 about the rescue last month. He said he quickly changed the subject but Lodatto wouldn't let him.
"The last thing he said as we were getting out of the ambulance at the hospital, he stopped and grabbed my hand and said you need to go to church on Sunday," Penic said, laughing.
Paramedics say even in the ambulance, he seemed more concerned with their souls than his own blood.
"I realized this was a time when I had a platform to spread my faith with them," Lodatto said.
Detective Lodatto still has a bullet lodged in his hip, and said he doesn't know when he can return to work. But agent Farrell said the detective hasn’t stopped working and still calls daily to ask about the case.
Tyler Holder remains hospitalized with a head wound. According to a search warrant affidavit, investigators found in his home a sealed letter addressed to "Mom" that read "I love you, I'm sorry." As News 8 reported after the document was unsealed:
Additionally, authorities took a Timex watch with a purple band with pink-and-green flowers on it; girls necklaces and jewelry; multiple condoms, including at least four that had been used; bedding; plastic and latex gloves; plastic containers and tubing; white ropes with knots tied in them; and paper towels and toilet paper with blood on them.
Ladotto is a 21-year police veteran. He downplays his wound now.
"I do have a little hitch in my giddy up," as he puts it.
Chauntel Lodatto said the shooting still affects their two young children, but they all understand that dad's a cop.
"If you know Charles Lodatto,” she said, “there's no question he'll return."
"I think this is what God wants me to do with my life,” her husband said. “I enjoy it. I can't wait to get back to it."
And he said his priority remains securing justice for Alanna Gallagher.