Local News

Roanoke Rapids officer: 'I thought I would die'

Posted February 14, 2011 11:30 a.m. EST
Updated February 14, 2011 3:31 p.m. EST

— A Roanoke Rapids police officer who was shot during a traffic stop Nov. 17 said he feels like he has been given a gift – a second chance at life. 

Officer John Taylor was shot five times after he stopped a stolen car on Interstate 95. One of the shots hit the officer's bulletproof vest, he said, and Taylor had wounds to neck, abdomen and wrist. He radioed for help as he fell to the ground. 

"I am choking on the blood. I am losing a lot of blood through my neck and I thought I would die,” Taylor said on Monday, speaking for the first time about the incident. “The very first thing I thought about was my wife and son and actually I got a little mad at myself thinking, 'I can't die on my son.' He was only 15 months (old) at the time and I wanted to be there to watch him grow up.”

Taylor credits four people with saving his life that night – two drivers along I-95 who saw him get shot and stopped to help and two paramedic friends who heard his call on the radio and showed up minutes later. 

"I asked them not to let me die and they didn't. Those four people more than any others, in my opinion, were the true heroes that day," Taylor said. 

After undergoing several surgeries at Pitt Memorial Hospital in Greenville, Taylor was released from the hospital on Thanksgiving Day and recuperated at home through the holidays. He returned to work at the end of January. 

Taylor was assigned to light duty and is doing mostly desk work.

"There is still a good deal of swelling on the top of my wrist. The range of motion is limited. It's come a long ways," he said. 

One of Taylor's most serious injuries was from a bullet that went under his bulletproof vest. 

"It sliced through both intestines before it turned up," he said. "It still rests sitting between my heart and my spine." 

Investigators say Michael Eugene Edgerton, 38, shot Taylor. Edgerton was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound on Nov. 18 after an intense manhunt.

Renee Michelle Phillips, 43, of Southampton, Pa., was arrested a short time later. She has been charged with accessory after the fact of attempted murder, possession of a stolen firearm and possession of a stolen vehicle.

Phillips was in the Halifax County jail Monday under an $800,000 bond.

Phillips and Edgerton were wanted in Pennsylvania on vehicle theft and parole violation charges when Taylor stopped the car they were driving.