Sheriff expects deputy saved by bulletproof vest to return to duty "soon"

Senior Deputy Sheila Aull (Source: Richland County Sheriff's Department)
Senior Deputy Sheila Aull (Source: Richland County Sheriff's Department)
Adam Jurgen (Source: Lexington County Sheriff's Department)
Adam Jurgen (Source: Lexington County Sheriff's Department)
The scene at Farrington Way Apartments.
The scene at Farrington Way Apartments.
St. Andrews Pkwy. off of Broad River Road. (Source: Taylor Kearns)
St. Andrews Pkwy. off of Broad River Road. (Source: Taylor Kearns)

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The Richland County deputy who was injured in a gunfight with a man who sparked a massive search Tuesday afternoon has been released from an area hospital.

A spokesperson for the for the Richland County Sheriff's Department said deputy Sheila Aull is now at home resting with family. Investigators say she was shot in the chest by 24-year-old Adam Jurgen who was the focus of an hour-long manhunt near Broad River Road and St. Andrews Road.

Deputies say she is alive only because she was wearing a bulletproof vest.

"We were fortunate in yesterday's shooting because Deputy Aull and the other deputies could have easily lost their life or suffered serious injuries," said Sheriff Leon Lott in a statement Wednesday.  "We do all we can to protect our deputies and community by providing the Deputies with the best equipment and training.  Yesterday proved the value of both."

Captain Chris Cowan said Aull was "justified in her actions to defend herself and the other deputies" and she will return to work when is medically and mentally able.

Jurgen was shot and killed during the same gunfight.

A domestic disturbance is to blame for what snowballed into an hour of terror for many people in homes and businesses in the area. 

Cowan said Jurgen was shot and killed by deputies when he exited an apartment at Farrington Way Apartments while firing at deputies.

During the gunfight, Aull was hit in the chest. "Her [bulletproof] vest saved her life," said Cowan. She was taken to an area hospital where she was treated and later released. Cowan said she was traumatized, but was expected to be okay. She has been with the department since 2004.

"Deputy Aull is sore but doing very well and she will be returning to full duty very soon," said Lott.

The search for Jurgen started around 1:45 p.m. after an investigation into a domestic dispute at CVS on Broad River Road. The clerk at the store said the woman had a bloodied face and looked like she had been punched. Deputies made contact with a female victim who had been assaulted. Because deputies believed Jurgen was still in the area, they began a patrol.

"As they patrolled the community, they made contact with the suspect," said Cowan. "As he fled, he fired multiple rounds at the deputies."

Several deputies then joined the search and re-engaged Jurgen near Whiteford Road. He again fired at deputies and then fled into the Farrington Way Apartments, said Cowan.

"He went into the front of an apartment. As he went out of the back of the apartment, he fired several rounds," said Cowan. "[He] hit one of our female deputies in the chest striking her vest."

Deputies fired back and fatally wounded Jurgen. The search was called off around 2:45 p.m.

It was later revealed that Jurgen was out of jail on probation for an earlier conviction. He was most recently charged with criminal domestic violence in September, 2012.

Rounds from that gunfight hit several vehicles, patrol cars and apartments in the immediate area, Cowan said.

Dozens of officers from the Richland County Sheriff's Department, the Columbia Police Department, the Lexington County Sheriff's Department, and SLED all took part in the manhunt.

Officials with Richland School District One placed Columbia High School, Sandel Elementary School, and Pine Grove Elementary School on lockdown due to the search. The lockdown was lifted around 3:30 p.m.

"Every deputy is issued a protective vest and is required to wear it," said Lott. "I believe it is my responsibly to provide each one a vest as part of their normal equipment issue and we should never rely on the community or special groups to provide vests for the deputies --  That should be a priority for any sheriff, chief, and local government."

SLED is investigating the incident.

Copyright 2013 WIS. All rights reserved.