Joy Braun, Jeremy Braun, and Sheriff Pat Garrett. Photo: Chas Hundley//Gales Creek Journal
HILLSBORO - "The valley of the shadow of death is very small, very narrow, and you have to go through it alone," said Corporal Jeremy Braun of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.
After being shot at close range with a shotgun on August 8, 2019 in a wooded area near a Hagg Lake-area home, Braun walked through that valley many times, he said.
Braun spoke about his experience during his first public remarks since his close brush with death at a press conference held in Hillsboro on Thursday, February 6.
Braun and another officer, deputy Chris Iverson, were both shot in a gunfight after reports came in of a theft of firearms from a home near Hagg Lake. Officers with multiple agencies and the interagency Washington County Tactical Negotiation Team — commonly known as a SWAT team — entered a wooded area to search for the suspect when Iverson and Braun were allegedly shot by Dante James Halling, 55 years old at the time of the shooting.
Halling was struck by gunfire, and, after a hospital stay, booked into jail on a slew of charges in relation to the shooting and unrelated parole and probation violations in connection to a previous attempted assault charge.
As members of TNT searched the suspect’s last known location in a wooded area, the suspect opened fire on them, striking Iverson and Braun. Multiple TNT members returned fire, injuring Halling, who surrendered.
While Iverson was able to return to work, Braun would remain in the hospital before being discharged with a long road to recovery ahead of him.
Joined by his wife of 16 years, Joy Braun, and Washington County Sheriff Pat Garret, Braun discussed his recovery and the events that surrounded the August 8 shooting.
Citing a pending court case, some information about the shooting itself could not be disclosed.
Braun’s remarks began with a prepared statement and then evolved into a question and answer session with Jeremy and Joy Braun, Sheriff Pat Garrett and local TV and newspaper publications. At times emotional, Braun displayed a quick wit, speaking with a sense of humor about all that had occurred, while acknowledging his traumatic experience throughout the roughly thirty minute event.
“If I were to be so bold as to take my shirt off — which is not going to happen — you could see four pellets on my shoulder here,” he joked while discussing how many pellets had entered his body.
Braun said that if he had to sum up the experience, one word would best describe all that had happened.
Overwhelming support from his wife, community, hospital staff, and workplace during his ongoing recovery, and from the businesses that helped his family and more since August 8. This was said while expressing gratitude for this and a longer list of those who were there for him and his family.
“I was shot at pretty close range with a shotgun. There was several shots, with birdshot, so I’m still retrieving birdshot from my body,” Braun said.
More than 150 shotgun pellets entered Braun’s body after he was shot in the neck and left arm, with his carotid artery and jugular veins both punctured. His left vocal cord was paralyzed, and Braun had to relearn to talk after the shooting.
He says that some of the pellets that entered his body will remain with him forever.
About 25 pellets have been removed from his body in one fashion or another.
150 birdshot pellets, similar to the ones that Corporal Braun was struck with. Photo: Chas Hundley
Braun says that he kissed his kids in the road on the way to work the morning of August 8 — a daily tradition — and didn’t make it home that day. “We’ve always lived life with the understanding that I may not make it back home. I just didn’t understand how crappy that would be,” Braun said.
Taken after the shooting to OHSU by Lifeflight, Braun credits the helicopter pilot as a hero, saying that weather conditions grounded the pilot shortly after he was transported to the hospital.
Back at home, the Braun’s were in the process of building a new home. Living in a trailer with their three children — ages 11,12, and 13 — wIthout cell or internet access, Joy Braun heard secondhand that there had been an officer-involved shooting from Jeremy Braun’s parents.
A call confirmed the fact that Braun was involved, but at the time, Joy Braun says she didn’t know how serious things were yet.
An officer came and picked Joy Braun up from their property
“You just drive,” Joy Braun told the officer. “I know every hospital. I have mapped this out a thousand times in my head, which is the quickest way to each hospital depending on the severity of the injury.
Once she arrived at the hospital, Joy Braun said, it was “like an ocean of blue.”
At the 2019 homecoming football game, the Banks Braves honored Jeremy Braun. “I had no idea what they had planned,” said Jeremy Braun when asked about the event.
“I grew up in Banks, it’s a great community to have grown up in,” he said.
He says that his actions on August 8 don’t feel heroic to him, but rather that he was just doing his job. It’s an assessment not necessarily shared by his boss, Sheriff Pat Garrett.
“I think Jeremy is a hero for what he did in August and in every single day since then,” Garrett said, while underlining his support of the emotions that Jeremy Braun felt about the incident.
Braun credits many for saving his life, from the first responders that treated him, the pilot that flew him to the hospital, the doctors and nurses that kept him alive through his severe injuries, and his wife, family and community.
He’s thankful to be alive, and says he will be back serving Washington County, hopefully this year.
“There’s a couple of guardian angels out there with birdshot in their wings.”