By Bill Glauber
WISCONSIN: Oak Creek Police Lt. Brian Murphy, the first officer on the scene during the August 5 shooting at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, said Wednesday that he turned in paperwork to retire from the force. His last day is expected to be June 12.
Murphy was hit with 12 bullets during the attack. He has a duty-incurred disability, ending his 22-year career on the Oak Creek force. He previously worked a year as a deputy in the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department.
“I didn’t heal enough for the doctors to deem me eligible to go back to work,” said Murphy, 52.
Six Sikh worshippers were killed in the attack and three others were wounded. The gunman, Wade Michael Page, killed himself after he was taken down with a rifle shot by Oak Creek officer Sam Lenda.
During the attack, Murphy refused to give up, even though he was shot multiple times at close range by the gunman. When other officers arrived, he motioned for them to help others.
He said he still has physical issues with his left thumb, and has no feeling in his right forearm and a leg and his voice is raspy because of a wound to his throat.
“The healing process is mostly done but not fully complete,” he said. “My wife and I talk about it all the time. I’m still Brian and I’ll always be that way. As much as this has been an amazing year or close to a year, I think more than anything, I’ll be happy to go back to being Brian, being a good husband, a good father, a good step father.”
Murphy, Lenda and six other Oak Creek officers who first responded to the attack were among those honored last weekend as recipients of the National Association of Police Organizations TOP COPS award.
President Barack Obama talked about Murphy at the State of the Union address and did so again during Saturday’s ceremony at the White House.
“When a gunman opened fire on a temple in Wisconsin and Brian was the first to arrive, he did not consider his own safety,” Obama said Saturday. “He fought back until help arrived and ordered his fellow officers, who are here today, to protect the safety of the Americans worshipping inside – even though he was lying there bleeding from 12 bullet wounds. When he was asked how he did it, he said, ‘That’s just the way we’re made.’ ”
Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards said Murphy has recovered remarkably over the past few months.
“From where he started after the shooting to where he is today, I’m ecstatic that I’ll be able to give him a retirement ceremony,” Edwards said.
Edwards said it always a difficult decision for officers to make as they approach retirement.
“It’s tough to cut that and move on,” he said. “His hand was kind of forced in this deal. We’ve had this discussion. He’s around for a reason. You don’t go through what he went through not to be around here for a reason. If it’s to spread the word on training or to teach, he has another chapter left.”
“He wasn’t ready to go, we’re sad to see him go, we’d love to have him back,” Edwards said. “I’m glad I can shake his hand give him a hug and say, ‘Enjoy your retirement.’ ”
Murphy said he would like to teach other officers, but beyond that, has not yet formulated plans for the future.
“It’s not the way we planned it but life rarely is,” he said.
(Courtesy Journal Sentinel)