Local News

Fayetteville Officer Credits Vest, Bystander for Help During Shooting

Posted March 27, 2007 6:21 p.m. EDT
Updated March 27, 2007 8:34 p.m. EDT

— A Fayetteville police officer is out of the hospital after being shot in the line of duty and is thanking the community for its support and his bulletproof vest for probably saving his life.

Officer Doug Austin said Tuesday that he is eager to get back to a job he loves.

"All points considered, I feel pretty good,” Austin said.

Austin said he knew such a shooting could happen and he was aware of the dangers of his chosen profession. But he's 23 and had only been on the job for two years when he Robert Hampton Taylor, 51, of Fayetteville, allegedly shot him.

"I actually was struck right over the left chest, and it left a nasty, black, baseball-sized welt," Austin said.

Police said Austin was chasing two men toward a fence off Galveston Drive early Monday morning when he was shot. He could not describe details of what happened, but he's grateful for the vest.

"If the day comes for you, you want everything to get you over the edge and (to) take every advantage you can," he said.

Austin said he is also grateful for the 21-year-old Fort Bragg soldier who dashed out of his apartment and came to his rescue. The soldier, who wants to remain anonymous, said he pulled the suspect off the officer.

"The moment when I looked over my shoulder and (saw) him coming, it was a good sight to see,” Austin said. “It was nice to see help coming. I knew the cavalary was coming from the police department, but he bridged the gap and definitely came through in a scary situation."

Austin has 30 stitches because of all the cuts in his head from the fight with Taylor. He said he’s going back to work in a week or so without missing a beat.

"It's a job that has inherent risks, you know,” he said. “You just try to mitigate them as best as possible. I guess you can't live in fear."

Taylor faces numerous charges, including attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon.

Steven Bethea, 39, is charged with possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon and failure to appear on a misdemeanor larceny charge. Police said he was with Taylor when the chase began.