EXCLUSIVE: Wounded Arnold Police Officer expresses gratitude on one-year anniversary of shooting

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MO - It is a celebration of life for an Arnold Police Officer. Exactly one year ago today, Ryan O’Connor was shot in the back of the head by a burglary suspect.

O’Connor’s wife, Barbara, looks back at the past twelve months in amazement.

“It’s been an interesting year, to say the least.  Lot of changes, lot of moves,” she said.

On December 5, 2017, hundreds of officers lined the halls of St. Anthony’s Medical Center (Now Mercy South) as Ryan O’Connor, 44 at the time, was rushed in for emergency surgery.

A burglary suspect who O’Connor was transporting shot the first responder, and then himself. He died.

It was feared O’Connor’s fate would be the same. Doctors believed he might not survive, much less recover from the severe injury.

“A lot of hard times,” his wife said.

But the hard times were also met with miracles.

O’Connor was stabilized and eventually transported to a Colorado facility that specializes in traumatic brain injuries.

It was at Craig Hospital where he was able to regain his strength, learning how to do basic exercises and even stand.

“I really, honestly, never thought that we would come to this much progress,” his son, Ciaran, 12, said.

The time since then has been marked with accomplishments. In recent days, O’Connor was able to stand on his own and walk, without a spotter.

“The more he does it, the better he’s getting. He’s unstoppable,” Barbara said.

And for the first time, Ryan O’Connor – officer, husband, and father - had his own words to share.

“Thank you for everything,” he said, fighting back tears.

The journey of recovery continues. But there is no doubt among family that Ryan O’Connor can do it.

“He’s my dad. I know he can do it,” Ciaran said. “Because he’s an O’Connor.”