PORTLAND, Ore. - The Klamath County Sheriff made a 10 hour round-trip to Portland on Sunday to visit his deputy, Jason Weber, in the hospital. Weber was shot in the line of duty in Klamath Falls a few days ago, and is lucky to be alive.
Sheriff Frank Skrah, who's the first non-family member to visit Weber since the shooting, said the deputy remains in serious but stable condition. Weber, 40, will be in the Intensive Care Unit for several more days.
The sheriff said he made the long trip because it was the right thing to do.
"It's my job," Skrah said. "It would be unforgivable for me not to come."
When Skrah walked into OHSU on Sunday afternoon, he'd prepared himself for the worst yet said the deputy was doing better that he imagined.
"It's hard to see," Skrah said, choking up, "Excuse me. It's hard to see one of the kids that works for you like that."
Skrah said Weber was happy and gave him a thumbs-up when he walked into the hospital room.
"He can't smile because he's got tubes in him," Skrah said.
Weber took a large-caliber bullet to his face during a traffic stop on Wednesday in Klamath Falls, nearly 300 miles southeast of Portland.
A team of surgeons at OHSU removed the bullet from Weber's face on Friday, and reconstructed it with titanium plates.
"His face is swollen horrifically; number one from the gunshot wound, and then the other is from the surgery," Skrah said. "They cut him from here all the way around to the right side up to here."
Sheriff Skrah spent 25 years as a detective supervisor for the Los Angeles police department's organized crime division. He's been in law enforcement since the 1960s.
"I worked Watts, the Rodney King riots, Central Street shoot out," he said. "I've seen a lot."
Skrah survived being shot in the line of duty himself.
He said Weber never returned fire after William Jack Parkerson allegedly shot him last week. Parkerson allegedly shot Weber in the face and then moved to shoot him again. Parkerson was arrested with his girlfriend on Thursday in Chiloquin, north of Klamath Falls.
When asked if he believed Parkerson was trying to kill Weber, Skrah said, "You damn right he was trying to kill him. This is an ex-con that got out of prison in February, and he had so much regard for the system and society that he didn't bother reporting to his parole officer. He's been running ever since."
After the shooting, Sheriff Skrah said Deputy Weber was able to use his radio to guide other officers to him.
"When I first saw him when I got there, up against the push bar of that car and starting to go down, blood squirting out from his face and his gut, it scared the hell out of me. He's strong and his tactics saved his life," the sheriff said.
A neighbor also helped Deputy Weber before medics arrived. Sheriff Skrah called that man a hero.
"He came out, grabbed a bath towel wrapped it around his face stopped some of the bleeding and he didn't know whether that shooter was still there or not," Sheriff Skrah said.
Deputy Weber will remain at OHSU until he is stable enough to travel home to Klamath Falls. Sheriff Skrah said the plan is to eventually fly the deputy back home. Another Klamath County deputy owns a medic transport plane, which will be used for that trip. That deputy also donated the plane to initially fly Deputy Weber to Portland.
A fund has been set up for donations for Deputy Weber's medical care. Click here for more information about that fund.