Arlington police SWAT team member Bryan Graham "performed at the level of a hero" on Tuesday night, when he was shot in the head by a suspect wanted for multiple aggravated robberies, one of his colleagues and close friends said Wednesday afternoon.
"He put his life on the line trying to rescue a hostage," SWAT officer Charles Crawford told reporters at a news conference at the Arlington police headquarters. "Hostage rescues are the hardest job we have."
Graham, 35, continues to recover at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, with family and fellow officers at his side. The bullet entered his right temple and exited behind his ear but did not penetrate his skull, Crawford said. "A few centimeters in another direction, and we might have had a different outcome," Crawford said. "We're very grateful for that."
Graham never lost consciousness and has experienced no memory loss, Crawford said.
"At the scene, he was concerned about two things: 'Did I do my job right, and is my family OK?'" Crawford said. After Graham was shot, the rest of the SWAT team maintained its focus on rescuing the hostage and performed at a high level, he said.
Crawford and Sgt. Curtis Petties, who now works with Arlington school resource officers, described Graham as a family man and dedicated officer who even from his hospital bed made it clear that he couldn't wait to get back to work.
"It really hits you hard when it's somebody you truly, truly know," said Petties, who was adopted by Graham and his family in 2000 when the pair were classmates in the police academy.
"When I went to the hospital, his mom came up to me and said, 'Curtis, I am so glad to see you.' I haven't seen her in probably 11 years, but it shows that he continues to talk about me to his family."
Meanwhile, the investigation continued into the sequence of events that led to the death of the suspect, Alexzander Rye Coan, 23. Police released no details but said Arlington officers had established a perimeter, shots were fired from the apartment and entry was made into the apartment.