BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Sergeant Bruce Simmons of the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office is one of three survivors of the July 17, 2016 ambush attack on law enforcement officer.
Simmons had hoped to return to work Monday, exactly one year after the attack, but further medical complications have put that on hold.
"It's been a long journey. We have met a lot of good people. We have had some good days and of course some really down days," said Simmons.
Simmons is one of six law enforcement officers shot one year ago. He and Deputy Nick Tullier left their cups of coffee at a restaurant as soon as they heard the call go out on the radio, both rushing to Airline Hwy.
"I was shot in the left arm, right above the elbow on the inside of my arm and completely disabled my arm," said Simmons.
After the shooting, the x-ray revealed there was no bone connecting his upper arm to the lower arm. The shrapnel is still lodged in his arm today.
Simmons was also diagnosed with radial nerve palsy, meaning he could not do what he normally does with his hands, such as pick things up or even move his fingers. Now, he finally has use of his hand again, but his muscles are still weak.
"I am gripping. My strength is improving. I did go to the indoor range and shoot with my left hand because that was one of the prerequisites my doctor asked me to do before he would release me to full duty and I was actually surprised at the accuracy I had with this hand," said Simmons.
Simmons was hoping to be cleared to return to work Monday, but a visit to the doctor last week put that off for another several months.
"It showed that some of the hardware that was put into my arm, one of the screws is backing out, which she says is not a good thing," said Simmons.
Last year, doctors cut into Sgt. Simmons' left hip and femur and took bone and marrow from there to put into his arm. Now, one of four screws that was placed is coming loose.
"Just this past month, that screw has seemed to back out at the top, so they are going to have to go in and do something with it, but the biggest concern is when the screw starts to back out, that means that the bone did not completely heal," said Simmons.
Doctors could have to go back into Simmons' hip and leg to get more bone to put into his arm, meaning another surgery that could put Sgt. Simmons back into a wheelchair for a few weeks.
When asked if he regrets responding to the shooting on Airline Hwy. last year, Simmons responded, "No, I would do it today. If I was in uniform, even after going through everything I have been through, if I hear that same call with active shooter, officer down, there would be no hesitation. I would go straight there."
And when asked why he wants to return to the force, Simmons said, "Because that is what I was doing. That is my career choice, to be in law enforcement, to serve the public."
On top of recovering from the bullet wound, Simmons and his wife, Pam, are still living in a FEMA trailer since their home flooded in August of 2016. With Sgt. Simmons limited physically, their home is still not finished. But this couple has zero regrets. Instead, they're beyond thankful for the past year.
"It's been a very hard year, but there are so many positive things and so many wonderful people and relationships coming together," said Pam.
Sgt. Simmons asks that the public continue to pray for fellow deputy, Nick Tullier, who was also wounded in the shooting.
"Continue praying for nick. Nick has a long road ahead of him and the main focus is that law enforcement officers, no matter what color their uniform is, the shape of their badge, we are public servants. Our main duty is to protect and serve. That is what we do this for and we just need the support of the people out there," said Simmons.
He asks for everyone to come together and for one more thing.
"Just don't let anyone forget the ones that paid the ultimate sacrifice that day, their wives, their children, and their families that they left behind because there is one thing that I will never forget is July 17," said Simmons.
As for that cup of coffee they started one year ago, Sgt. Simmons plans to one day finish it with Nick by his side.