Joy Braun, Jeremy Braun, and Sheriff Pat Garrett during a Feb. 2020 press conference. Photo: Chas Hundley//Banks Post

More than 18 months after being shot at close range with a shotgun on August 8, 2019 in a wooded area near a Hagg Lake-area home while attempting to apprehend an armed suspect, Washington County Sheriff's Office Sergeant Jeremy Braun has returned to full-time duty.

A corporal with the sheriff's office at the time, Braun, who said he grew up in Banks, was promoted to sergeant in 2020.

Braun and another officer, deputy Chris Iverson, were both shot in a gunfight after reports came in of a theft of firearms from a home near Hagg Lake. Officers with multiple agencies and the interagency Washington County Tactical Negotiation Team — commonly known as a SWAT team — entered a wooded area to search for the suspect when Iverson and Braun were ambushed and shot by Dante James Halling, 55 years old at the time of the shooting, the Washington County Sheriff's Office said. 

Braun was flown by Life Flight ti OHSU with life threatening injuries. Iverson was transported to an area hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

"[Sgt. Braun] has overcome incredible odds to be back working a full schedule. Sgt. Braun suffered serious injuries to his neck and upper body. He spent more than a month in the hospital and many more months in physical therapy. Sgt. Braun had to relearn how to walk and even speak," a press release said.

“It’s like falling off a bike, you forget, but you know how to do it. I’m very happy to be back, but kind of nervous at the same time," Braun said of returning to full-time duty.

According to the sheriff's office, Braun will spend the next few weeks working with other Patrol Division Sergeants learning his new position with the sheriff's office, where he will be based out of the law enforcement agency's Hillsboro headquarters.

Sgt. Braun in 2021. Photo: WCSO

A long road to recovery

Braun's recovery after the shooting took an extended period of time. In a press conference held just over one year ago on Feb. 8 2020, Braun gave an update on his recovery and the impact the shooting had on his family.

“I was shot at pretty close range with a shotgun. There was several shots, with birdshot, so I’m still retrieving birdshot from my body,” Braun said. 

More than 150 shotgun pellets entered Braun’s body after he was shot in the neck and left arm, with his carotid artery and jugular veins both punctured. His left vocal cord was paralyzed, and Braun had to relearn to talk after the shooting. 

He said that some of the pellets that entered his body will remain with him forever. 

150 birdshot pellets, similar to the ones that Corporal Braun was struck with. Photo: Chas Hundley

Braun says that he kissed his kids in the road on the way to work the morning of August 8 — a daily tradition — and didn’t make it home that day. “We’ve always lived life with the understanding that I may not make it back home. I just didn’t understand how crappy that would be,” Braun said. 

Taken after the shooting to OHSU by the Life Flight Network, Braun credits the helicopter pilot as a hero, saying that weather conditions grounded the pilot shortly after he was transported to the hospital.

Back at home, the Braun family was in the process of building a new home. Living in a trailer with their three children — ages 11,12, and 13 — without cell or internet access, Joy Braun heard secondhand that there had been an officer-involved shooting from Jeremy Braun’s parents. 

A call confirmed the fact that Braun was involved, but at the time, Joy Braun says she didn’t know how serious things were yet. 

An officer came and picked Joy Braun up from their property

“You just drive,” Joy Braun told the officer. “I know every hospital. I have mapped this out a thousand times in my head, which is the quickest way to each hospital depending on the severity of the injury.

Once she arrived at the hospital, Joy Braun said, it was “like an ocean of blue.” 

Banks honors Braun at homecoming game

At the 2019 homecoming football game, the Banks Braves honored Jeremy Braun. “I had no idea what they had planned,” said Jeremy Braun when asked about the event in 2020.

“I grew up in Banks, it’s a great community to have grown up in,” he said. 

He says that his actions on August 8 don’t feel heroic to him, but rather that he was just doing his job. It’s an assessment not necessarily shared by his boss, Sheriff Pat Garrett. 

“I think Jeremy is a hero for what he did in August and in every single day since then,” Garrett said, while underlining his support of the emotions that Jeremy Braun felt about the incident.

Braun credits many for saving his life, from the first responders that treated him, the pilot that flew him to the hospital, the doctors and nurses that kept him alive through his severe injuries, and his wife, family and community. 

He’s thankful to be alive, and says he will be back serving Washington County, hopefully this year.

“There’s a couple of guardian angels out there with birdshot in their wings.”