ORLANDO, Fla. - As the father of a police officer, Michael Hajek says he always expects an untimely knock at the door with bad news, but hopes it never comes. Tuesday it did.
"As a parent, spouse, family member of a law enforcement member you know what that call means," Michael Hajek said.
His 24-year-old son Jason Hajek, who had just recently completed his rookie training in the Orlando Police Department, had been shot during a routine traffic stop. Police say the bullet, rattled off by 23-year-old Demetrius Patterson, struck just below his vest--piercing his bladder and exiting through his hip.
A day later Michael Hajek and the rest of his family are thankful Jason Hajek is alive. He underwent emergency surgery, but doctors amazingly expect him to make a full recovery.
Michael Hajek says his son is up and mobile and already working with physical therapists. Despite the pain of the gunshot wound and the surgery, he's doing well, he said.
While Jason Hajek is recovering and hoping to be released from the hospital, Patterson is also recovering from his own gunshot wound. The officer was able to take aim and fire back at Pattterson while he was down. But Pattterson will recover from his foot injury in jail. A judge denied him bond Wednesday on his charge of attempted first degree murder on a law enforcement officer.
"It represents one less threat for the officers and law enforcement to have to face out there, so that makes me feel good that Jason or someone else is less likely to have to confront [Patterson]," said Michael Hajek.
He says although there is some anger and resentment toward Patterson, what he's incensed about is the fact that Patterson was allowed free with his lengthy criminal record. The 23-year-old's nine-year criminal career includes 17 arrests and 26 felony charges. He was just released from prison not quite a year ago.
According to Michael Hajek, his son will spend three to six days in the hospital. Even after his experience almost 36 hours ago his dad says he wants to get back to work as soon as possible.
But his dad says he and his family have hundreds of thank yous to dole out first.
"We really want to thank the men and women of law enforcement for their response. You hear the term often the blue line and the family. It really got demonstrated," he said.
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