Wounded officers continue to improve

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 7, 2006

Greenville police officers wounded during a gunfight with a Louisiana man are well on the way to recovery, according to police chief Lonzo Ingram.

Ingram told city council members on Monday that Officer John Bass and Officer Lionel Davidson are still improving. Bass, who was struck by a bullet in his right arm, has re-joined the force and is on light duty, said Ingram. Davidson, shot twice in the right arm and left hand, was released from the hospital on Monday and has returned home, Ingram said.

Ingram said Davidson's injuries were the most severe.

&#8220Lionel had it rough for awhile,” he said. &#8220He had surgery, came home and then had to back into the hospital where he was placed in intensive care and they had to operate again. But he's back home now and should be able to return to light duty pretty soon.”

On the night of Jan. 14, Bass and Davidson responded to reports of a man, later identified as Wayne A. Vasquez, 50, of St. Bernard, La., walking the hallways of the Comfort Inn carrying a gun. When Bass and Davidson arrived on the scene to investigate, Vasquez opened fire, hitting Davidson. Bass was shot when he and Officer Byron Russell, who had arrived on the scene as back up, returned fire.

Greenville's Special Response Team found Vasquez dead in his first-floor hotel room later that night.

The case is still under investigation by the Alabama Bureau of Investigation. Greenville police are also waiting on toxicology reports to determine if Vasquez had any drugs or alcohol in his system.

Davidson had recently graduated from the police academy, while Bass had joined the Greenville police force after serving in Iraq.

Ingram said, for the newer officers, the shooting served as a reminder of how situations can turn deadly in a moment's notice.

&#8220They knew something like this could happen, but they didn't think it would happen so quickly (after graduation from the academy),” said Ingram.

But he said things could have happened much worse.

In June 1994, Officer Gary Wayne Heath, 25, was shot and killed at the Amoco station on Highway 10; the victim of a robbery attempt by a man who later committed suicide.

&#8220It's very difficult when you have to bury a police officer,” said Ingram.