GREENFIELD — Matt Fox has made a lot of doctors’ visits in the past six months, but there was something different about his appointment Tuesday morning.
He went with a sense of anticipation.
And then, Fox, 30, finally got the news he’d been waiting for weeks to hear. Less than six months after being shot multiple times in the line of duty, the Fortville police officer got the OK to return to road patrol.
It was music to Fox’s ears.
Fox began working desk duty Oct. 1, little more than two months after being shot during a traffic stop, and he has been itching to get back on the road ever since.
While Fox has been completing a variety of important paperwork assignments in the past few months, he jokes that he’s been the department’s “glorified secretary.”
“You’re just sitting there at a desk, waiting on
people to come in – if they come in,” he said. “We don’t get a lot of foot traffic.”
It’s been a long – but in many ways amazingly fast – road for Fox, who was shot July 27 after he tried to pull a driver over for having a broken taillight.
The driver, later identified as James “Skip” Lockhart III, 27, of Indianapolis, refused to stop when Fox turned on his lights and siren, and a brief car chase ensued.
When Lockhart finally stopped his car in a subdivision in Lawrence, he still wasn’t ready to give up. Before Fox ever had a chance to put his squad car in park, Lockhart leaped out of his own car and opened fire. Fox was shot several times, once in the forehead. His left arm and hand were also struck.
Lockhart was shot and killed after exchanging gunfire with responding officers that same night. Marijuana packaged for sale was later found in his car.
Fox underwent multiple surgeries, but it quickly became apparent he would make a full recovery.
And no one was more certain of that fact than Fox, Fortville Town Marshal Mark Lyons said.
“It wasn’t too long after he got shot, he said, ‘I’ll be back by first of the year,’” Lyons said.
He missed that goal – but not by much. Doctors opted to give Fox’s hand a little more time to heal. Fox had surgery on his hand late last year to reconstruct the pinky finger.
Lyons said Fox’s help on the administrative side was appreciated, but the road is where he is needed.
“It was a real pinch during the holidays, trying to get coverage for vacations and that kind of stuff,” Lyons said. “When anybody’s gone, it makes us short.”
Fox got his start in law enforcement working in the Hamilton County Jail in 2004. In May 2005, he started patrolling as a reserve officer for the Ingalls Police Department until he was hired there full time the following July.
Fox moved to the Fortville Police Department in 2007 and has been there ever since.
Lyons said he talked to Fox about whether he had any apprehension about returning to his patrol duties, and Fox was raring to go.
“He said there’s absolutely no problem,” Lyons said. “He’s confident.”
Members of the community were glad to see Fox back to work Tuesday.
“Everybody was excited, glad to have me back,” he said.
Martin Peters, co-owner of M&J Firearms on Main Street said Fox’s story is a tragedy with a positive outcome.
Fox is a frequent visitor to Peters’ store, and Peters still has a newspaper article with Fox’s picture pinned to the wall for customers to see.
“The community needs more heroes,” Peters said. “I can’t think of a better example.”