by Victor Lopez
ECTOR COUNTY--"I'm not going to die here. It's not my time to die. I'm not going to die here," Ector County Sheriff's Deputy, Ricky Tijerina, said moments after he'd been shot in an incident that led to a 22-hour standoff in West Odessa.
Tijerina kept that promise. He's recovered and on Monday, he returned to for duty.
In his first on camera interview since being shot, Deputy Tijerina shares his thoughts of that
September day. He says it was just another day on the job for him. He had no reason to believe that answering a call in West Odessa, would end up with him being taken to the hospital after being shot three times.
"The whole incident seemed to happen quick, but at the same time, it seemed to take an eternity for somebody to get there, especially after taking shots," Tijerina recalled.
A three-year veteran of the Ector County Sheriff's Department, 29-year-old Ricky Tijerina says he had no reason to think that September 17, 2010 would end up the way it did.
"I got called out to University and Knox to meet two oilfield workers in reference to a civil matter. There was no reason to believe I was in any kind of danger going on to the property," he explained.
Tijerina was answering a call on Victor's White's property in West Odessa. What started out as a routine confrontation, got real ugly, real fast.
According to Tijerina, "He's got a weapon pointed at me, so, immediately that's your first thought, to take cover and defend yourself. I immediately did that and that's when I heard the first shot ring out."
Even though he'd been hit, Tijerina made sure everyone was okay, rushing to take cover with civilian, Luke Bedrick.
"I turned and I asked, 'how bad am I hit? Be honest with me. How bad am I hit?' He looked at me and gave me a look like, it's not good," Tijerina said.
Tijerina managed to get the pair across the street, to apparent safety, when he was hit again. When it was all said and done, he had been shot in the neck, the ankle and the back of his leg. Regardless of his condition, he says, he was determined to hang on, "I thought of my daughter. I thought of my wife, family and friends. That's pretty much what kept me going. While I was trying to go for cover, I made prayer. I said a prayer."
Sgt. Steve McNeil, who was called in for backup, was also shot. He returned to duty earlier this month. With Tijerina back on the job, Sheriff Mark Donaldson reflects on a day that could have ended much worse.
"You feel, kind of, a fatherly deal for these guys. They're out there doing a job for you. You brought them into this and put them out there in harm's way. You certainly don't want anything to happen to any of them," Donaldson said.
Recalling McNeil's injury and despite his own, Tijerina added, one of his main concerns was the condition of his fellow officer, "You don't ever want to hear that your fellow officer has been shot or injured in any kind of way, especially a severe injury like that."