(WELLSTON, Okla.) — An Oklahoma police officer who was hurt in a gunfight with a double-murder suspect who is still at-large told ABC News he began shooting at the suspect to save the lives of the other officers the gunman was apparently targeting.
“I didn’t want them to be shot,” Wellston police officer Jim Hampton told ABC News.
The gunfight began Sunday after Hampton responded to what he described a “routine” call of people firing weapons in an unsafe manor. Hampton said the suspect, later identified as Michael Vance, pointed a gun at other officers and started shooting at them.
“I knew I had to get [Vance’s] attention towards me to get [the officers] out of the way,” Hampton said, “So I started shooting at him.”
Hampton said he hit the suspect in his shoulder, knocking him to the ground. But he said then Vance got back up and their “gunfight was back on.”
“At one point we both stood up together — he was shooting at me and I was shooting at him,” Hampton said.
Once Hampton’s gun was empty, he had to go reload — he said that’s when he got struck in the foot.
But Hampton said adrenaline allowed him to run while injured. He said their gunfight continued until Vance allegedly stole a police car and drove off.
Hampton, who was hospitalized and released for his injury, said he thought the gunfight would kill him.
“So much goes through your head at the time, family, friends,” he said. “Luckily I got away with just a shot in the foot.”
Despite his injury, the 26-year veteran, who wanted to be a cop since he was 3 years old, said he is definitely returning to work.
“I don’t know what else I’d do,” he said. “I love my job.”
Police expanded their search in the manhunt for Vance and warned the public to stay away from the suspected killer, saying he has “absolutely nothing to lose.”
Vance, who is considered armed and dangerous, is accused of shooting and injuring Hampton and another officer on Sunday, according to the arrest warrant affidavit. Vance then allegedly fled in a police vehicle and posted a video on Facebook, saying he was about to steal another car, the affidavit says. Vance allegedly stole another car and shot a woman in the process.
Two bodies believed to be relatives of Vance were recovered by police Sunday night. Vance is suspected of killing them, possibly with an AK-47 and a large knife, according to the affidavit.
The affidavit says early Monday someone matching Vance’s description shot a store clerk at a gas station in Sayre, Oklahoma.
Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel told ABC News Vance could face the death penalty if convicted of the crimes.
Whetsel called him someone with a “total propensity to kill people. … He has no care for human life whatsoever.”
Whetsel said Vance could be anywhere by now, “or he could just be very close, hiding out.”
Since Vance was shot and injured, it is possible he is dead, Whetsel said.
A wanted poster warns that Vance has a medical condition, which was not specified, “and may try to spread [the] disease.” Whetsel said there were no threats made by Vance and there’s no indication that he wants to spread disease, but officials are still putting out the warning as a precaution.
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