PUYALLUP, Wash. — A South Sound neighborhood is on edge after an off-duty Federal Way police officer was shot trying to stop an early morning burglary.
The violent encounter happened in Puyallup, the officer’s hometown. Police say he was on his morning jog when he saw a burglary in progress at Jennings Equipment, tried to stop them and ended up getting shot.
Federal Way police have identified the officer as Donovan Heavener, a 27-year law enforcement veteran. He was one of the founding members of the Federal Way Police Department 25 years ago and has also worked in policing in Wisconsin.
Just before 7 a.m. on Sunday, he saw two men who had smashed in the front door of Jennings Equipment.
“They had straps and cables all hooked to the doors already and ready to pull them out with the pickup truck,” said Fran Jennings, who owns the shop with his sons.
Puyallup Police Department’s chief says Heavener had an exchange with the two suspects.
“He did not walk up to them,” said Chief Scott Engle. “He did stay on the sidewalk out at the corner of River Road.”
“They were clearly trying to pull the doors off of the business and make entry,” Engle said. “As they began to flee the scene, likely from him yelling out to them. Someone or someones in that white pickup truck shot him on the sidewalk.”
Heavener was shot in the abdomen.
“Initially, at the beginning, we were told this was very serious, and he may not survive,” said Chief Andy Hwang of the Federal Way Police Department. But after surgery, Hwang says he believes Heavener will make a full recovery.
“He’s talking and communicating now. So we’re just about as happy as we can be as a police organization,” Hwang said. “It was a close call, so we are really fortunate here.”
Heavener also helps run the Washington State Law Enforcement Torch Run, which raises money for the Special Olympics.
“He has a can-do attitude. He’s high-energy, hardworking, just a positive influence here at the police department. It didn’t surprise me what he did,” Hwang said.
Police say the shots came from a white or silver Chevy four-door pickup. A second vehicle, a black pickup, fled the scene too.
Jennings Equipment says in the past two years, they have been burglarized multiple times. They now have all their equipment attached to the walls with Kevlar straps.
They say what Officer Heavener did made a difference.
“I just thank you. I really appreciate him going the extra mile. He was off duty,” Jennings said. “And I really wish him and his family well.”
Both the suspect vehicles were spotted in the neighborhood to the south of River Road half an hour before the crime. The suspects apparently lost a toolbox that dropped onto the street.
“And I thought, well, that’s strange,” said Betty Zufelt, a resident.
Zufelt says the noise startled her. But she says crime has recently touched her after living here for 65 years.
“Someone had punched out my door to get in, not my house, but my car,” she said. “And they ransacked it. But they didn’t take anything.”
Puyallup Police are asking anyone living in this neighborhood who has surveillance video to share it with them.
They say both men were wearing black, their faces covered.
Thus, they need anyone who knows anything about this crime to come forward.
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