Law Officers Involved In Smith County Courthouse Shooting Honored At Ceremony

A ceremony Wednesday honored the Smith County officials who sacrificed their safety to stop the Smith County Courthouse shooter seven weeks ago. Among those in attendance, Deputy Sherman Dollison. He was critically wounded during the shooting. However, his condition has improved rapidly.

Officers say they were just doing their jobs, that their sacrifice comes with wearing a badge. But Wednesday, Smith County leaders told law officers what they did on February 24th was far more than just a job.

"On that day they stepped forward especially to protect our employees and the citizens of our community," said Mary Elizabeth Jackson. "I want to tell them thank you for everything they did for us that day," said Audrey Copeland, a detective with the Smith County Sheriff's Department.

Fourteen officers honored Wednesday, each one linked forever to that day and the gunman. But it was a familiar face, sitting quietly, that caught the crowd's eye. Deputy Sherman Dollison. His presence speaking of his courage and strength to recover. "It says more to us than we will ever be able to say to you," Mary Elizabeth Jackson said during the ceremony.

Deputy Dollison was shot four times as he tried to stop David Arroyo, Senior. In his first public appearance, Deputy Dollison's frame was thin, he moved slowly and carefully with the help of a wheelchair, but at times, able to stand on his own. "I just want to thank all the people that prayed for me," Deputy Dollison said, "and my family and the sheriff's office. Without there support I probably wouldn't have made it this far." Already, the Deputy's thoughts are on serving Smith County again.

In uniform at the ceremony, showing how proud he is to serve. "I'm standing, I'm gaining my strength back. The hospitals helped me real good with rehab. Hopefully it won't be too long before I get back to work."

The crowd eagerly greeted each officer, with handshakes, smiles and most of all "thanks." Lieutenant Marlin Suell of the Smith County Sheriff's Department was also wounded during the shooting said the honors are nice, but it's not the reason he took those brave steps that day.

"We're just doing our job," Lieutenant Suell said. "That's what we're here for to do our job regardless of what may happen, that's our purpose and that's our goal is to complete our job every day."

Everyday Smith County will continue to remember the bravery and the sacrifice of those who protect them. Deputy Dollison was out of the hospital just for Wednesday's ceremony. He's now back, continuing his rehabilitation. Each of the law officers honored today received awards and certificates from state and U.S. representatives and senators. Each was also given a signed picture from President George W. Bush.

Maya Golden reporting,