Washington Trooper Dean Atkinson Jr. met with hospital staff and the 911 dispatchers who helped save his life.
WALLA WALLA, Wash. – Washington Trooper Dean Atkinson Jr., the state trooper who was shot in the line of duty on September 22, met with the hospital staff and the 911 dispatchers who he credited with helping save his life.
Trooper Atkinson was in his vehicle at the intersection of Avery Street and West Poplar Street just after 5 p.m. on Setember 22. Information released by the Special Investigations Unit back in September stated a vehicle being driven by Brandon O’Neel, 37, of Walla Walla, rammed into Atkinson’s patrol car. O’Neel then allegedly shot Trooper Atkinson and drove away from the scene.
Trooper Atkinson, despite being critically injured, was able to drive himself to a Walla Walla hospital. While some investigators went to the scene to begin gathering evidence, Walla Walla police officers and officers from Milton-Freewater spotted O’Neel’s vehicle and began chasing him. Walla Walla police officer Nat Small was able to stop O’Neel’s vehicle north of the intersection at WA-125 and Stateline Road. O’Neel was arrested a short time later.
Trooper Atkinson was initially treated at Walla Walla’s Providence Medical Center before he was taken to Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center for more intensive care. A GoFundMe set up in his name raised over $60,000. Several fundraisers in the Walla Walla and Tri-Cities communities, including one hosted by Summer’s Hub and KAPP-KVEW in Kennewick also raised thousands of dollars.
Trooper Atkinson was able to go home to a hero’s welcome to Walla Walla ten days after the ambush. He underwent several surgeries during his stay in Seattle but improved with each day, according to updates from his family.
The motorcade, which rolled into Walla Walla on Sunday afternoon, made stops through the Yakima and Tri-Cities areas, where people offered an outpouring of support for the recovering trooper.
Law enforcement agencies spanning the region — including the Walla Walla, Richland and Yakima Police Departments, as well as the Washington State Patrol (WSP) and Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, participated in the hero’s welcome.
The five-year WSP veteran and Walla Walla community member has a long recovery ahead of him. He planned to get married in the Summer of 2023 and will be working his way up to full strength in hopes of meeting that goal.
O’Neel is facing charges of attempted murder, assault and attempting to elude police. He is also facing charges for threats of bombing property and harassment. He is pleading not guilty in the case.
Court documents showed that O’Neel was on the verge of eviction and threatened to “execute” law enforcement agents sent to force him from his home. His bail is set at $1 million.
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