By Carla Branch
Alexandria Police Officer Peter Laboy sustained a catastrophic gunshot woundto his head 15 days ago and today, at a press conference, the staff at MedStar Washington Hospital Center described his progress as miraculous.
“When I spoke to all of you 15 days ago, I was very cautious because I have seen many gunshot wounds of this type and I knew that the first 72 hours after surgery were critical,” said Janis Orlowski, MD, Chief Operating Officer/Chief Medical Officer, MedStar Washington Hospital Center. “I didn’t want to convey too much optimism that Officer Laboy had survived surgery because many of those who have sustained such wounds have not survived the next 72 hours. At that time, I would have given his chances as one in a million.
“Four days after his surgery, his blood pressure was stable and he was opening his eyes. Six days after surgery, he was able to sit on the side of his bed and four days ago, I saw him walk. He is able to speak a word or two and he recognizes his wife.
“I cannot guess at his recovery, though. I have seen patients who suffer traumatic brain injuries continue to recover long after the incident. What I can say is that he has been moved to Washington Hospital Center’s National Rehabilitation Hospital where he has the best care. Over the next nine to twelve months, we will see if he can walk on his own and how his speech will progress. We simply cannot predict the outcome at this point.
“Officer Laboy suffered an injury to the frontal lobe of the brain, which controls fluid speech and interpersonal interaction. I will not say he was lucky but the path of the bullet did not damage parts of the brain, which control motor skills. The bullet entered his temple, bounced off the other side of the skull and left fragments in his brain. We removed some of the bullet but will not operate to remove fragments, which are lodged in the center of the brain.
“He does face other surgery because we performed a craniotomy because of the swelling in Officer Laboy’s brain so he is wearing a motorcycle helmet – ours, not theirs – to protect his head. Eventually, we will replace the skull.
“His recovery is due to his strong heart, good health, the quick response of the community who called 911 to get him emergency assistance, the Alexandria fire department and paramedics who were on the scene quickly, the Park Police helicopter that transported him here and our team that was waiting for him to arrive. More than 100 members of our team have touched Officer Laboy since he arrived and we will continue to work with him as he recovers,” Orlowski said.
Alexandria Police Chief Earl Cook thanked the community, the staff at MedStar and members of the Alexandria Police Association and members of the Police Benevolent Association. “I have visited with Peter and he recognizes me and members of my staff,” Cook said. “We are grateful to the wonderful staff at MedStar because I’m not sure he would have survived had we brought him anywhere else.
“His wife Suzi asked me to convey her gratitude for your support and to thank the media for giving the family their privacy. Peter has a strong will to survive and has never hesitated to volunteer for hazardous duty. He saved someone’s life and I never worried about his will to survive. I was just concerned about things beyond his control.
“The criminal investigation is ongoing and we are working closely with Commonwealth’s Attorney Randy Sengel and his office to build a strong case. We do not have a motive at this time but I can say that nothing we know would have led a suspect to react to being stopped by one of our officers to react in the way this suspect reacted,” Cook said.
Kashif Bashir, 27 years-old, of Woodbridge, has been charged with Malicious Wounding of a Law Enforcement Officer and Use of a Firearm in Commission of a Felony. He is being held without bond. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 10.
On Sunday, March 10, thousands stood in line at Virtue Feed & Grain, a restaurant in Old Town Alexandria, to make a donation and/or participate in a silent auction to benefit Laboy’s family. “It is going to be a long road back for Peter and there will be many expenses for his family,” Cook said. “On Sunday, there was a fundraiser at Virtue Feed & Grain, which was co-sponsored by the Alexandria Police Association, which raised over $75,000. There have been other donors, some anonymous and some who have given their names, who have been very generous.”
Tomorrow, Cook will return to his own elementary school, Lyles-Crouch, to accept $3000 in donations for the Laboy family. The Lyles-Crouch PTA organized the fundraiser and asked families to contribute what they could. Each child at the school tied a blue ribbon to the playground fence to support Officer Laboy. His oldest son attended the school and he often directs traffic near the school in the morning and afternoon. He was shot just outside the school’s playground on Feb. 27.
The Alexandria Police Department and Inova Alexandria Hospital are holding a community blood drive for Laboy and other members of the community on March 21. Anyone who wants to make a contribution to support the family can do so through a special PayPal account, which has been set up by the Alexandria Police Association or drop off a donation in an envelope at the Alexandria Police Department.