Desoto County deputies are happy to be alive after dangerous encounter with armed suspect

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — "He shot more than five times."

Sgt. Hunter Garrett and Deputy Lee Hutchen are bless to be alive.

On Jan. 25, 2017 their worst nightmare came true.

54-year-old Darnell Washington caused that nightmare.

Police say Washington terrorized people across the Mid-South by robbing and carjacking them as they got in and out of their cars in Memphis and Desoto County.

But that reign of terror ended when he parked in a Kroger parking lot in Southaven.

"I was at K-9 training off Highway 51 when calls started coming out about the armed robberies," Deputy Hutchen said.

Police say they were looking for the man and spotted the stolen car that he'd been driving in the parking lot.

"We have several commands for the suspect to show his hands and get out the car," Deputy Hutchen said.

But the suspect refused.

Deputies say when Washington finally exited the car, he started running towards the back of Kroger.

That's when he was armed and dangerous, so they had to act quickly.

"As I was pulling in the parking lot, that's when I saw the individual running away from the officers. I chased him around the building," Deputy Hutchen said.

Deputy Hutchen was shot right above his bullet proof vest.

William continued shooting.

He also shot Sgt. Garrett in the foot.

Hutchen and Garrett were then rushed to Regional Medical Center.

"I called my wife, and I wanted her to hear it from me at least," Sgt. Garrett said. "I said, 'I'm OK, but I've been shot."

Deputy Hutchen was unconscious and fighting for his life when deputies had to break the news to his fiance.

"She burst into tears. She tried to run out of the house without any shoes on, no jacket or anything," Deputy Hutchen said.

His injuries were so severe that doctors were unsure of his future.

I was in the med for, I think 12 days," he said.

Deputy Hutchen's fiance never left his side and never stopped praying for his recovery.

"I believe what happened was I pulled my gun, and the bullet hit me right here. It went in and it went through my lungs, my diagram and my liver before bouncing off my spine. So, that's a blessing itself. They were afraid that I wasn't going to walk again if I survived this," Deputy Hutchen said.

Hutchen and Garrett were able to return to work at the Desoto County Sheriff's Department to a job they love.

Sgt. Garrett knows that he and Deputy Hutchen could have been killed that night, but he thinks God sent him a sign.

"One of the things I do remember about being at the hospital is that my wife and I had been looking for a church to join. We visited Hernando Baptist, and we liked the pastor at the time. We really liked him," he said.

He came and visited us at the hospital. He was there is the room with us. That was kind of a sign right there. We joined the church," Sgt. Garrett said.

Deputy Hutchen says he doesn't want the shooting to change or define his life.

He just wants to be the same as before.

"The doctors at the med, I've always heard they work miracles up there. If you can get their alive, they can keep you alive, " Hutchen said."I believe God still left me here for a reason. I still have a job to do. If I take care of the people in Desoto County, that that's what I'm going to do."

The suspect was killed in the shootout.

Sgt. Garrett says he never leaves home without telling his wife that he loves her.

Deputy Hutchen and his fiance were married a few months after he was released from the hospital.