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Officers injured in December shooting joyous over fundraiser for recovery

February 9, 2019

Capt. Wesley Hensley couldn’t shake hands because of his gunshot wounds, but he was more than happy to give out hugs.

He had good reason to smile Friday, even though he faces a long road after sustaining nine gunshots while serving a warrant in December. Hensley and Sgt. James Smejkal, who also was injured, were surrounded by friends at family at the Houston Police Officers Union building, where community members raised money for their medical and recovery expenses at a lunch and auction.

“I’m here and I’m alive, and very thankful,” Hensley said.

Alan Helfman, a Houston auto dealership owner, donated many of the items and danced to the cadence of the auctioneer calling out prices.

Some people attending the fundraiser snagged rifles in the auction and others got away with signed sports items from Houston athletes such as the Astros’ Jose Altuve and former Houston Oiler Earl Campbell.

David Villarin, who retired from the Houston Police Department in 2016 after an injury, said he came to the fundraiser because he understands how difficult it can be to pay for medical bills. Many officers work part-time jobs outside of their patrols and aren’t able to claim that part of their income while recovering, he said.

“There’s so much loss once you’re injured,” Villarin said. “This helps out a lot of financial burdens.”

Hensley and Smejkal’s lives were changed on Dec. 11, when they came face-to-face with a suspect who was wanted for violating a protective order from his girlfriend.

The warrant sparked a five-hour standoff in the 5000 block of Hartwick Road, during which the suspected gunman shot three officers. At the end of the standoff, the gunman, Daniel Trevino, took his own life.

Hensley, with the Fugitive Apprehension Unit of the Texas Attorney General’s Office, said he knew he’d been shot at least once during the confrontation but still tried to negotiate with the gunman. He was then shot multiple times in the groin and crawled outside.

Smejkal, of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, was shot in the right hand during the firefight. A third agent who was wounded had minor injuries and wasn’t benefited by the fundraiser.

David Maxwell, the head of the law enforcement division for the Texas Attorney General’s Office, said his heart went in his throat when he heard one of his captains was injured.

“The individual who ambushed him and the other officers did everything in his power to kill them, and he survived,” Maxwell said. “It’s a testament to Wes and a testament to his fortitude and the person he is.”

Smejkal has one remaining surgery on his hand, which was still swollen. Overwhelmed by the support on Friday, he warmly greeted well-wishers.

“I don’t know how to explain it, but it just feels good that people care,” he said.

The community response to the shooting — as well as the shooting in southeast Houston that left four officers with gunshot wounds and a fifth with a knee injury — signals the durability of the “thin blue line,” Hensley said.

“It might be thin, but it is very, very strong,” he said.

samantha.ketterer@chron.com

Twitter.com/sam_kett

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