Shots Fired: Palm Desert, California — 03•30•1996

Get Me to the Hospital

“This is not how I’m going out,” Hendrix said to himself through teeth clenched in pain.

He lay on the ground, blood pouring from 13 holes in his body. He’d been shot seven times; most had been though-and-through wounds.

He tried to get up, but couldn’t. His leg hung off to the side. He began yelling, telling people he was a cop and to get him an ambulance. It appeared as though everybody was in shock, but him.

“I looked up and saw my fiancee in the glass doors looking out at me,” Hendrix recalls. “I laid my head back down and couldn’t believe that I had just done that to her. I was frustrated and upset with myself.”

A woman rushed out of the store for Hendrix. An off-duty trauma nurse from a nearby hospital, she immediately applied tourniquets to the serious injuries to his leg and arm. He was bleeding from his head, and internally, as well.

“An indescribable pain was starting to set in, mostly in the stomach,” Hendrix says. “I never felt anything like it. I couldn’t move to make it go away, so when the pain hit every 30 seconds, I focused on my breathing. By breathing in through my nose and out through my mouth and trying to keep my heart rate lower when the pain hit, I was able to make it bearable.”

The first officer arrived on scene and advised over his radio that he was with an off-duty San Bernardino deputy who had been shot multiple times.

“When I heard that,” recalls Hendrix, “it made it all real for me.”

“I knew it had happened, but now I’m sitting there listening to one of my brothers putting it out over the air that I was the officer that was down. I knew it was bad at that point. My fiancee had come out and was crying. I knew I was dying, but I didn’t want to do it right there in front of her. I hoped they could load me up and get me to the hospital quickly. I was getting really tired, extremely tired, and I just wanted to go to sleep because I had lost so much blood. I started to get angry and I said to myself, ‘This is not going to happen here. I’m not going to die here on the asphalt in front of her, in front of everybody. This is not how I’m going out.’ I started to make demands, ‘Let’s hurry up. Let’s get me to the hospital.’”

What Hendrix was doing was trying to maintain some sort of control over both the situation and himself. He knew he had to keep himself engaged and aware of what was going on to keep himself from going into shock.

It helped.

“They loaded me up for the 30-minute ride to the hospital-made longer because of the spring break commuters-then moved me straight into surgery. The doctors saved my life.”

Ripley ended up surviving, as well, and was sentenced to 32 years, of which he has to serve 28 years.

Author: Greg Raven

Trained with Chuck Taylor. What else is there to know?