In a lengthy message released Tuesday afternoon, Independence Chief of Police Brad Halsey provided more encouraging updates regarding Officer Tom Wagstaff, who was shot and critically wounded after responding to a burglary call March 29.
Wagstaff was shot in the head, underwent what hospital officials called “life-saving surgery” and had been in critical condition since. On Friday, he was transferred from Centerpoint Medical Center to a long-term rehabilitation facility.
“We are amazed at the progress he has made so far in his recovery, given the initial medical information we had following the incident,” Halsey said. “Though there have been some positive steps recently, it is important to remember that there is still a long road ahead for Tom in his recovery efforts. While we are confident that Tom will continue to amaze us with his strength and courage, as he has so far, we know that there are going to be good days and bad days during this process. What will carry him through is the continued thoughts and prayers from all of us, and the amazing bond that guides us through all of life's difficult times.”
Halsey went on to offer and relay plenty of gratitude.
“Our police family has been overwhelmed with the support of not only this community, but from communities all around the Kansas City area. I have been with the police department for 24 years and I have never doubted the support of the community and first responders, however I have been strongly reaffirmed that this community is special and unwavering in the support it provides the men and women of this police department. We want to thank the numerous outside law enforcement agencies, Independence Fire Department, AMR ambulance service, organizations and businesses that have assisted us since this incident occurred.
“We are also thankful for the treatment and care provided by Centerpoint Medical Center and the understanding that they have shown for our unique procedures in situations like these.
“Tom’s entire family wishes to express their thanks to the surrounding community for all their heartfelt love and support throughout this incident. The family wants to thank the entire staff of Centerpoint Medical Center, especially the ICU staff, who provided amazing care for Tom during his stay there. The family also wishes to express their deepest gratitude to all the surrounding churches for the prayers and support during this incident. They truly have comforted them during this difficult time. Lastly, Stacy, Tom’s wife wants to express her thanks for the love and support from the Raytown School District.”
Halsey ended by saying police have done their best to respect the family's privacy and that any information they release has been done so with family permission.
Four suspects have been arrested and charged in the case that resulted in Wagstaff's shooting. Two of them allegedly forced their way into the house where officers responded, then fled in a stolen vehicle, bursting through a closed garage door, during which the shooting happened, and two who allegedly drove the suspects to the western Independence neighborhood.
Court documents do not mention the shooting in which Wagstaff was injured. However, Independence police said during a briefing the day of the shooting that the suspects had fired while fleeing and officers returned fire. Kansas City police have been investigating the shooting.
Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker has acknowledged the slight possibility of friendly fire causing Wagstaff's injuries but said such a scenario would be a “freakish event” and “one-in-a-million” that couldn't be replicated. She said she holds the suspects “accountable in every possible way” for Wagstaff's injuries.