Wounded Fort Worth officer in excellent spirits after release from hospital



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Posted on February 7, 2013 at 6:16 PM

Updated Friday, Feb 8 at 7:03 PM

FORT WORTH -- Officer John Bell has had to swap his police Harley for a wheelchair, but he remains very much on the move –– it's been 10 days since a gunman shot him three times at a Haltom City body shop. He faced reporters Thursday afternoon just before being discharged from Harris Methodist Hospital.

"You don't give up the fight or you're dead," Bell says, describing the day he confronted a hiding drug suspect who opened fire on officers. The gunman died. 

The 21-year veteran says dying never occurred to him.

"I don't think there was ever a time when I didn't think I was going to be OK," he says. "There was a time when I was mad about it."

A bullet shot through his groin missed arteries, but lodged in his hip joint. Another took a finger on his left hand. A third splintered in his eye socket, a centimeter from his brain.

"I'm concerned about my sight really," Bell says. "That's the hardest part. I think it's going to be OK. I want to think it will be. We'll just have to see."

Surgeons don't know if his sight will return in his right eye. Doctors removed manybullet fragments from the socket, but not from his eyeball.

"Very, very lucky," said trauma surgeon Dr. David Smith. "Had the bullet entered his brain through his eye socket, he likely would have had a fatal injury."

Instead, Ofc. Bell accepted a salute from colleagues he can't imagine leaving behind. An honor guard and fellow motor officers lined up to welcome him outside the hospital.

He's trying to figure out how to stay on the force, if not on a motorcycle.

"You can't back up," he said. "You have to go forward. You tell yourself you're breathing, you're OK."

Ofc. Bell is a familiar face in Fort Worth, with his silver mustache and weathered skin beneath his visor. On Thursday he sat with Chief Jeff Halstead to his right, his wife, Barbara, holding his injured left hand. His right eye is swollen shut from surgery. His left was full of life.

"The good Lord was looking out for me obviously," he laughed. "Probably got a plan for me somewhere down the road."