A rookie police officer who was shot Friday is eager to hit the city’s streets again.
Officers Ray Azucena, who had been on patrol less than two months, and Xavier Serrano, his training officer, were on a call at a house in the 3800 of Wharton Drive when shots burst from a backyard shed.
Serrano was struck multiple times and had to stay in the hospital for several days. He was released Wednesday.
Azucena, 26, was hit once in the chest, but the shot was deflected by body armor. His chest was bruised, but he was released from JPS Hospital the next morning. He has not returned to duty.
“It was scary and surreal,” Azucena said of the shooting. “We’re happy we managed to get out of there alive.”
Martin Craig Fleece, 55, fatally shot his father in the home, then ambushed the unsuspecting officers with gunfire from a shed behind the house before killing himself, authorities said.
Azucena spoke Thursday at Southwest Christian School in Fort Worth at the school’s “Back the Blue” rally. In a last-minute fundraiser, the students raised more than $5,000 for Serrano and Azucena.
“They came up to me afterward and shook my hand and thanked me,” Azucena said afterward in a phone interview. “It was amazing.”
Now, Azucena is “just thinking of trying to get back to work.”
“When I’m healthy mentally and physically, I’ll be back on the streets, hopefully will finish my training,” he said.
Azucena has a couple of more months of field training under an experienced officer before he’s ready to work solo, he said.
His chest is still sore but should be healed in about a week, and mentally, he has an obstacle to overcome, he said.
“When I hear gunshots on TV, it still kind of gets to me,” Azucena said.
But “this isn’t going to stop me” from getting back to work.
“I graduated [from the Fort Worth police academy] the day after the Dallas shooting. I was getting my uniform together while watching the news coverage,” Azucena said. “If anything, this is pushing me to want to get back sooner.”
Serrano is “doing fine and happy to be home,” Azucena said, but “still has a long road of recovery ahead.”
“He’s happy to be alive and so am I.”