PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — On Friday, Pinellas County Corporal Matt Aitken walked out of Bayfront Health hospital on his own.
On Sunday, Aitken was shot in the neck, hand and leg by a suspect as he pursued him.
Aitken is a K-9 deputy and was following a suspect car burglar when he was shot.
Sheriff Bob Gualtieri described the shooting as an ambush. Sergeant Jacob Viano was with Aitken that night, and was able to return fire, killing the suspect, Zion Bostic, 23.
On Friday, as he walked out of the hospital, Aitken was surrounded by fellow deputies, K-9 teams and his family, who greeted him with a hero’s welcome.
“I can’t put it into words and how thankful we are to God that he is with us still,” said Aitken’s friend and supervisor, Sergeant Mike Kilian.
Corporal Aitken’s dog “Taco” was not injured in the shooting. He credited the corporal’s training and dedication with the outcome.
“He and I talked a lot about this and there’s thousands of catches he’s had with “Taco” and his other dog, ” Bosco” and 99.9% of the time these calls go as planned because we train so hard for them and most bad guys are smart enough to give up and we just met somebody, he met somebody who decided he wanted to go a different direction and didn’t work out for him very well,” said Kilian.
The sheriff say Corporal Aitken has already indicated he wants to return to duty after he recovers.
“I talked to Matt several times, he tough guy, he’s a cop, he’s a cop’s cop, and his biggest thing is, as he told me walking out of here I’m T-5 and I want to get back to work,” said Gualtieri.