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Officer wounded in Sikh Temple shooting honored at retirement event

Lt. Brian Murphy says he’s recovered from injuries

Oak Creek — With speeches, proclamations, hugs, laughs and a few tears, the Oak Creek Police Department on Friday celebrated the retirement of Lt. Brian Murphy.

Mark Felix Oak Creek police Lt. Brian Murphy hugs a member of the York Regional Police department from Toronto at his retirement ceremony Friday. Murphy was severely wounded in the Sikh Temple shooting last summer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                       Mark Felix
Oak Creek police Lt. Brian Murphy hugs a member of the York Regional Police department from Toronto at his retirement ceremony Friday. Murphy was severely wounded in the Sikh Temple shooting last summer.

Murphy, the first officer on the scene during the Aug. 5 shootings at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, officially retired Wednesday with a duty disability.

PhotoGallery (12K)“I’ve never been more honored in my life as I have over the past 10 months, which is probably a good thing, I guess,” Murphy said in his speech to fellow officers, family, friends and members of the Sikh community who gathered at the police department building.

“The one thing, it really is a humbling experience,” he said. “And it makes you look back on all the things you’ve done.”

Murphy told his fellow officers, “Always be good about things and always be nice to people, because it comes around, it just does. I can guarantee you that. The person you have a conversation with today, you may forget about it, but they’ll remember it the rest of their lives.”

Murphy was struck with 12 bullets during the attack during which six Sikh worshippers were killed and three others were wounded. The gunman, Wade Michael Page, killed himself after he was wounded by a rifle shot from Oak Creek officer Sam Lenda.

Murphy, 51, has recovered from his wounds but said, “There is always pain and you adapt physically.” He now speaks with a rasp, has no feeling in his right forearm and leg and has limited use of his left thumb because of the injuries he suffered.

“On August 5th, I met people who were at their worst moment in life,” he said. “And I was able to at least help them as best I could.SikhTempleShooting (18K) I don’t know if it made a tremendous difference to everyone there, but it made a tremendous difference to me because I got involved with a community that has been nothing short of amazing.”

Speakers at the ceremony included Oak Creek Mayor Steve Scaffidi and Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards. Five Sikh officers from Canada’s York Regional Police were part of the honor guard.

Murphy said he remained overwhelmed with how the community responded to the shooting.

“I can never help but not look and think of the six people who are not here,” he said in an interview. “It always gets to me. Specifically to me when someone says you’re the hero, I just look and I think of Mr. (Satwant Singh) Kaleka, who tried to stop him (Page), he was the hero. Unfortunately, he’s not here and I am. I can’t ever think of that day without thinking of everyone. I know all of the families that were involved as victims as well, that doesn’t go away.”

During his farewell speech Murphy said he didn’t want his 22-year, two-month career with the force to be remembered solely because of the attack. Born and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y., Murphy served five years with the U.S. Marines.

“I had a tremendous amount of fun,” he said of his years on the force.

“More than anything I just want to thank the City of Oak Creek and everybody who I have been involved with to accept my thanks for letting me be an officer with the city, for letting me interact with them and for allowing me to be part of their lives, because they’ll always be a part of mine,” he said. “It’s a family in blue.”

Near the end of the speech, he returned to the events of Aug. 5 and said, “What you learn more than anything is you’re much more capable than you think you are and you’re much more able to do what you think you can’t. When people are counting on you, you will step up.”

He indicated what helped him was his yearning to return home to his family, including his wife, Ann, a history professor at Concordia University, and his stepchildren, Simon Piette, 11, and Jane Piette, 7, who were in the audience. His daughter Erika was in New York.

On Monday, Murphy said he starts a new job with Armor Express, helping officers shot while wearing one of the company’s vests.

“It’s the company that made our bulletproof vests,” Murphy said. “They made mine.”

 

by Bill Glauber of the Journal Sentinel

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