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Wounded officer recovering after shooting in New Smyrna Beach

After being wounded in a shooting on Saturday, New Smyrna Police department Cpl. Ralph Hunnefeld is now home and recovering with his family.

He and the officers who opened fire are being praised for their bravery after running towards a man who investigators say had a gun and was shooting at them.

In a body camera video, a Volusia County deputy is seen running fast towards gunfire after a man deputies said had a gun ended up opening fire here at a storage facility.

Deputies said at times, the man was even on the roof.

Investigators said that man was 25-year-old Matthew Thomas of Holly Hill, who said he shot Hunnefeld in his leg.

Deputies said Thomas had been arrested 25 previous times.

“Instead of surrendering and facing his day in court, he chose to shoot it out with the police,” said New Smyrna Beach Police Department Chief Mike Coffin.

Then, several officers return fire, and Thomas died on scene.

Police say Thomas was first spotted by an officer in Port Orange after he left a known drug house.

“She tried to stop him for no driver’s license and the vehicle not being registered and then that’s when everything took off from there,” said Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood.

Chitwood said Thomas was driving recklessly as he ran from police, and the deputy who put out these stop sticks even had to duck for cover to avoid being hit.

Right now, Hunnefeld is being praised for his bravery.

“He’s shot, he knows he’s shot, but he’s still in the fight,” Coffin said.

Coffin said he expects Hunnefield to fully recover.

In all, the 4 officers who opened fire are on paid leave as the FDLE investigates.


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