Risky business

Deputy who takes bullet has had worse days on the job.

Deputy Troy Mayer took a bullet earlier this year on a routine traffic stop, but it was nowhere near his hardest day on the job.

“You do kids’ calls, you work a bad crash, you do a death notification — those are tougher days than that day,” Mayer says.

The father of seven — and part-time deputy for Wadena County — had pulled aside a speeding vehicle last February when one of its passengers opened fire. “I got the ‘Forrest Gump’ of injuries,” Mayer jokes. The bullet entered his right buttocks and lodged permanently in his hip joint. “A few millimeters in any direction and it would’ve been life-threatening.”

The gunman was killed when deputies returned fire. Mayer was taken to a local hospital, then flown to the Twin Cities. His hospital stay lasted less than 12 hours. And Mayer insists the ordeal wasn’t the toughest day he’s had.

“Everybody that works law enforcement has to deal with some evil in this world. And I deal with that too, even as a part-time deputy,” he says. “The child abuse calls are the worst. I would rather get shot in the butt a hundred more times than have to deal with one more kid that’s got abused. Those are always the ones that break your heart.”

His daughter was near heartbreak on the day he was shot. Just 18, she was accompanying her dad on her second or third ride-along when gunshots rang out. She was shaken but resilient, and the incident hasn’t changed the family’s life at all. “We kept rolling, we just did it with a limp. (My kids) all understand enough to know that it’s not really my style to slow down or stop.”

Mayer, a full-time ambulance manager at North Memorial Hospital, was back at work that same week. He would be lying, though, if he said that he got through it alone.

The community was “unbelievably supportive. We’ve always been a very conservative, pro-law enforcement area up here. It’s actually become difficult to buy a meal (without a citizen paying for it) while working in uniform,” he says.

The support extended past Wadena County, too. Mayer also received support from the Minnesota 100 Club, which he hopes to repay in the future.

Their help “came out of left field,” Mayer says. “I didn’t expect for it or ask for it, but it was an unexpected blessing that really did help in a time of need.”