Officer John R. Bell was shot three times by an armed suspect in Haltom City on January 29, 2013. (credit: Fort Worth Police Dept.)

Officer John R. Bell was shot three times by an armed suspect in Haltom City on January 29, 2013. (credit: Fort Worth Police Dept.)

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Just two days after undergoing extensive eye surgery, Fort Worth police Officer John Bell was released from the hospital. The veteran officer was shot during a confrontation with a drug suspect.

Bell was shot in the groin, hand and eye. He lost the middle finger of his left hand from a bullet that lodged in his wrist, but the most serious injury was to his eye. “I’m concerned about my eye,” Bell said during a press conference at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital. ” I don’t know if I’m gonna get sight back or not. I’m kinda optimistic about it, but it’s gonna be a long way down the road. I wanna think it will be okay, but we’ll just have to see.”

On January 29, officers had been trying to pull over driver Cody Loron as part of a narcotics investigation when a police chase began. Eventually, Loron jumped from the vehicle and hid in a business area.  Loron opened fire as Bell and other police officers searched for him. An officer returned fire and Loron, 32, was shot and killed.

When asked about the moments after he was shot Bell said, “You tell yourself ‘You’re okay. You’re breathing. You’re okay.’  All the way to the hospital I told myself the same thing, ‘I’m breathing. I’m gonna be alright. I’ve got the best people in the world taking care of me.'” Even knowning he’d been shot several times Bell said, “I don’t think there was ever a time I didn’t think I was gonna be okay. There was a time when I was mad about it… but I always thought I’d be alright.”

Bell, a 21-year veteran, is in good spirits, even telling stories and jokes. At one point a reporter said it was good to see him and he responded, “It’s good to see you too!”

Bell said the well wishes from the public, other officers and his friends and family have been overwhelming. “It’s really been fantastic. I can’t tell you how grateful I am to everybody. I’ve seen people I haven’t seen in 20 years. There’s been so much support from the community, and the police department it’s just unreal. It really humbles you a lot.”

Bell remained optimistic in the aftermath of injuries that could have easily killed him. After he was shot Bell said he thought about his future as a Fort Worth police officer. “I thought ‘well this is pretty much the end for me,’ my age and so forth,” he recalled, but said he might still be able to contribute to the department, “Maybe I can’t do but a certain bit, but I really am considering trying to stay [with FWPD] as long as I can.”

Bell faces months of rehabilitation but thinks there are good things ahead for him. “The good Lord was looking after me obviously – probably got a plan for me somewhere down the road. I thank God for being able to, being able to make it.”

Hospital staff applauded as Officer Bell was wheeled to an awaiting car. He was driven from the hospital escorted by his fellow motorcycle officers.

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