HOUSTON — Liberty County Sheriff's Deputy Richard Whitten remains in critical condition Thursday morning after being shot in the neck by suspect Pavol Vido the day before.
Whitten is responsive but in a lot of pain, officers at the hospital tell KHOU 11 News.
Liberty County Captain DeFoor tells KHOU 11 no major arteries or organs were struck, but the deputy suffered complications overnight. He remains in ICU.
Nurses are still waiting for the swelling around Whitten’s neck to go down before they can look for any more bullet fragments left behind.
Liberty County Sheriff Bobby Rader says he went into surgery with Whitten, but was booted out by staff for not being family, even though he considers all his deputies family.
It’s that dynamic that Rader says makes hearing of the shooting all the more difficult for him and his small department.
“This is the first officer involved shooting that we’ve had since I’ve been sheriff. This is my seventh year. This is a really close family. A lot of tears have been shed over this,” Rader said.
When describing Whitten, Rader along with other deputies say he’s a good man with a big heart.
Sgt. Tommy Koen is Whitten’s supervisor and says Whitten was on his way to a school when he heard the call for shots fired.
“The call went out about the shooting and the description of the vehicle and he came right up on the car. Even though he was off duty, it was his duty to respond which he did,” said Koen.
As for how long they expect Whitten to be hospitalized, Rader says it depends on what neurosurgeons find after surgery.
Rader says he’s grateful for the outpouring of support from communities and departments across Texas.
“I’m getting text messages and phone calls from people I don’t know sending us prayers. We need all the prayers we can get right now,” Rader said.
Capt. William Knox says the resources from departments across Texas helped to bring the manhunt to an end as soon as it did. He says with their department being as small as it is, it’s important to know they have support when they need it to the most.
Knox says they do have theories on why Vido began shooting, but at this point cannot comment on those aspects of the investigation.
A manhunt ended after Vido shot and killed himself Wednesday afternoon when deputies confronted him, according to TDCJ.
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