Lights blazing triumphantly, a police procession wound through the streets of Amherst on Tuesday, escorting wounded officer Eugene Ptacek home.
Shot while rushing a suspect’s home during a May 31 standoff, the veteran SWAT team member had been hospitalized for 45 days. He walked out of MetroHealth Medical Center under his own power, according to Amherst Sgt. Mike Murphy.
“All too often, a convoy like this is for a worse reason, whether it’s an officer who has died in the line of duty, going to the hospital, going to the gravesite. For me to be able to see this, in this kind of light, is touching,” Murphy said.
Residents lined up along Cleveland Avenue and at the Five Points intersection downtown, where firefighters parked two ladder trucks flying flags high overhead.
The escort moved through town to the police station on North Lake Street, circling the sally port and later taking Ptacek to his house. There, the wounded officer was able to again walk to his front door with help, Murphy said.
Ptacek will have constant home health care and rehabilitation while his gunshot wound heals over the next several months.
During the standoff, he was hit in the backside by a single bullet that fragmented and crashed around inside his body, according to Murphy and others familiar with the incident.
Suspect Martin Robinson, 39, is a former Cleveland corrections officer. When police tried to arrest him on felony warrants out of Cuyahoga County, he barricaded himself inside a Sheffield Lake home.
That led to a 12-hour standoff in which Robinson was also shot more than once, sustaining non-life-threatening injuries.
Court records show Robinson had been indicted in April on counts of carrying concealed weapons, improperly handling firearms in a motor vehicle, driving while intoxicated, and violating a protection order.
Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.