TULSA, Okla. — The Tulsa International Airport police officer hit by the bullet of an active shooter last November said he holds no ill feelings towards the man who tried to kill him last year.
TIA Police Officer Wayne McClure told FOX23 on Thursday that not only had he forgiven the man who opened fire on him, but that the shooter James Watson, Jr. had reached out to him from jail to apologize for shooting him.
“I forgave him the minute I got the cuffs on him,” McClure said. “Once the cuffs were on him, it was over. I’m not one of those cops who escalates things once they end.”
McClure was honored by the City of Tulsa and the Tulsa Airport Improvement Trust (TIA’s board of directors) with the Medal of Valor for his actions that night stopping Watson as he opened fire outside the baggage claim area of the terminal at his wife. According to police, Watson and his wife got into an argument while in Houston at a Thanksgiving get-together. Watson flew home to Tulsa early and threatened to kill his wife once she got off the plane. A TIA officer was escorting Watson’s wife when Watson opened fire both outside the baggage claim, and then again in the nearby airport parking garage as airport police officers pursued him.
One round hit McClure in the chest, but he was wearing a bulletproof vest at the time.
“I didn’t even know I was shot until after I got in the ambulance,” McClure said. “At first, I thought it was a piece of the brick wall stuck in my vest because a round bounced off the wall.”
Once paramedics got his vest off, all McClure had was some red and bruising on his chest at the site where the bullet impacted his vest.
McClure and his colleagues were honored at Tulsa International Airport on Thursday for their actions in stopping Watson from killing anyone in what could’ve easily been a mass shooting had Watson hit his targets.
Though Watson apologized to McClure, and McClure forgave him. McClure said that doesn’t mean Watson should not pay for his crime.
“He put a lot of lives in danger, and I don’t think he was in his right mind, but he needs to answer for his actions,” McClure said.
McClure said growing up in a rough neighborhood and losing his mother to homicide as a young boy played a role in his willingness to run towards Watson that night. He said he’s heard gunshots all his life, and it did not scare him in the heat of the moment.
Dispatcher Kamille Maddux and TIA Officers Stacy Shabney and Richard Darrell, Jr. were also awarded commendations for their actions that night in getting Watson under control and under arrest.
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