“I didn’t think there was anyway he was alive,” Oklahoma sheriff recovering after shootout with manhunt suspect

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OKLAHOMA - Sheriff Clay Sander is still recovering in the hospital.

He was in surgery Monday morning.

Hospital officials said he in good spirits.

A friend who was just down the road when the shooting happened said Sander is lucky to be alive.

"I rolled up 20 or 30 seconds after the shooting. The suspect was already gone," said Dillon Berry.

Berry is a Dewey County Commissioner and friend of Sander.

He was nearby the night of the shooting and said it was a scene he'll never forget.

"Walking up to the vehicle, seeing a bullet holes in the glass, I didn't think there was anyway he was alive. The hand of God was the only thing that kept him alive," he said.

Berry said Sander's patrol vehicle was riddled with bullets.

Vance fired 20 or more rounds at the vehicle, but miraculously only two hit Sander in the arm and shoulder.

It all started when Sander pulled over a truck with a chain hanging from the back.

"That's typical Clay. He's out looking for the bad guy, and he sees what appears to be a farmer with a hazard and wants to stop him and give him a friendly heads up that he has an issue with his vehicle," Berry said.

He had no idea the driver was Michael Vance.

When the suspected murderer pulled over, officials said he started firing at Sander.

But, after being shot, Sander was able to return to his patrol car and give out a description of the shooter and the direction the car was traveling - crucial information that helped Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers track Vance down.

After a chase and another gun fight, Vance was killed by OHP troopers.

As for Sander, hospital officials said his injuries are serious but not life-threatening.

"He's doing all right. He could be a lot better, but he should be a lot worse. I think he's just grateful to be here. I know his wife and kids are, and I'm sure he'll be back on his feet and running the show any minute now," Berry said.

Sander has been sheriff since 2009.

He recently won re-election by a landslide, winning 79 percent of the vote.


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