UPDATE: Wounded deputy says he can’t wait to get back to work


MCCREARY COUNTY, Ky. (WTVQ) – A McCreary County Sheriff’s deputy said he’s not scared to go back to work once he’s recovered.

“If anything I’ll be more alert,” Deputy Tyler Watkins said.

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Investigators say as Deputy Watkins approached a man in a car while answering a domestic dispute call at a home, the man opened fire on the deputy, critically wounding him.

The accused shooter, 48-year old Mark Dungan, of Science Hill, pleaded not guilty to all charges in court on Thursday, July 18, according to court records.

He remains in jail on a $500,000 bond.

Watkins said at the time of the shooting he was conscious of the pain all over his abdomen and even down to his legs.

Monday he told ABC 36 News, “It felt like someone had literally stuck a hot brand inside my gut.”

Watkins spent about a week in a hospital in Knoxville, Tennessee.

He had two gun shot wounds, and went through two surgeries in the hospital.

Watkins ate his first meal in the hospital Wednesday, July 17, since undergoing multiple surgeries after being shot in the line of duty the night before, according to the sheriff.

He said the pizza he had could have been the worst pizza in the world, but it didn’t matter.

On the way home from the hospital law enforcement, friends, family and strangers lined the streets to welcome him home.

“It was emotional, especially since it was raining, and there’s people standing out in rain holding signs 7405 strong,” Watkins said. “I cried, I cried like a baby.”

When he got home he could barely take a few steps.

Watkins said he’s always been the stubborn type and he will recover.

“It takes more than a 45 bullet to keep me out of the game,” he said.

Family and friends, strangers too, have been following his story, reaching out and offering warm wishes to a fast recovery.

“The prayers that are coming in have been helping a lot,” Watkins said. “I can tell everyday is a recovery, but everyday I’m healing.”

Watkins said when he is able to eat his favorite food again, life will be getting back to normal.

“Once I get back to eating spaghetti again, I know I’ll be good,” he said.

He said his doctors predict he should be able to walk on his own in about two to three months.

Until then, he said he’s trying to stay positive, motivated and focused on moving forward.



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Monica Harkins joined the ABC 36 News team in June 2019 as a Multimedia journalist and Anchor/Producer. She’s born and raised in Austin, Texas and headed “North,” as she calls it, to study broadcast journalism and business at the University of Missouri. While at Mizzou she anchored and reported for KOMU 8 News, an NBC affiliate in Columbia, Missouri all four years. During her childhood she played almost every sport, but they always called her “Hollywood” for her love of theatre. In high school, she realized her excitement for theatre and performing was only a small piece of the puzzle. It’s story telling that’s her passion. She’s especially passionate about social media and creative platforms to tell stories. Her most recent experiment is being a FAA certified drone pilot. As a proud Texan she says she’s made of country music, Southern hospitality and Sweet Tea. When she’s not at work you can find her trying new recipes, listening to crime podcasts, reading the latest romance novel or rockin’ out to live music with friends. She says she’s only a tweet or Facebook message away, so say hi and send her the latest on your community. @MonicaHarkinstv or Mharkins@wtvq.com