Manhattan, KAN. (WIBW) -- A Riley County police officer is recovering after being shot in the head with a pellet rifle as she was directing game day traffic in Manhattan.
Riley County Detective Julia Goggins was working extra duty and was in the middle of Kimball Avenue and Browning Avenue Saturday night controlling traffic after Kansas State University's Saturday win over Missouri when she was hit in the right temple with a metal pellet.
Just before that, she had confronted a man identified as 25-year-old Garrett Goetz who lives nearby on Kimball Avenue. Police say he was intoxicated and in the middle of the road, trying to stop traffic so that some of his friends could cross the street.
Police say after their encounter, Goetz went to his house and shot Detective Goggins with a Crosman pellet rifle.
"I was directing traffic and we told an individual to get out of the roadway. He was blocking traffic and apparently, he didn’t appreciate that and was staring at us in the driveway. Once he was finally out of the driveway and went into his house, I thought that it was over. He was obviously upset. I turned away and I felt a sharp pain in the side of my head. I thought initially that it was a rock but I knew traffic wasn’t going fast enough for a car to kick up a rock and I wasn’t sure what had happened then," the detective told members of the media Tuesday. She says she has been a police officer for nearly eight years.
"She obviously told him to get out of the traffic way for his own safety and then, several minutes later from the same direction that the individual had gone to his residence at, another officer in the area heard a pop from that direction and she was holding the side of her head," Captain Kurt Moldrup, a department administrator, said.
Goetz was arrested Monday night at the Riley County Police Department. Officials say they found the pellet rifle in his home. Captain Moldrup told 13 News that to cover the distance from his house to the intersection, Goetz had to pump a lot of air into the gun to increase the pellet's velocity and that he intended to hurt the detective.
Staff members at Ogden’s Best Guns say pellet rifles pack a strong enough punch to penetrate plywood and are used to hunt small animals.
"I can see them definitely being able to take an eye out or hit somebody in the ear and hurt the ear drum. They're not a toy, bottom line. They should be treated with respect because they do fire a projectile. I think you should take the same precautions you would with a pellet gun as you would with any of these guns you see on the wall behind me. There’s a possibility of hurting someone and you should show respect," said the owner, Barry Arp.
"This was not a minor thing. This was a pellet gun that had a lot of velocity. The pellet wedged in the side of the officer’s head and stayed inside. Had she turned any other direction or moved her head in any other direction just by a matter of inches, that pellet could have very easily gone through the orbit of her eye, through her ear and caused very serious injuries, potentially life-threatening injuries, for sure career and life-changing injuries. This is a serious matter. Shooting not just at an officer but shooting at anyone especially in the head with that kind of pellet gun is nearly as dangerous as doing it with a regular rifle. It could have caused death just like a rifle could have. So hopefully the public will understand just how serious this is and we won’t have people taking shots like that at our officers again," Captain Moldrup added.
The pellet was removed from Detective Goggin’s scalp Monday and she was back at work. Moldrup says the wound did not require stitches but the pellet did break the skin and caused bleeding and swelling.
"I just thank God that it wasn’t any worse than it was, that it wasn’t a real gun or that it didn’t hit me in my eye so I just thank God for that," she said.
Garrett Goetz's bond was set at $35,000 and by Tuesday morning, officials said he had posted bail and had been released from jail. He is charged with Aggravated Battery on a Law Enforcement Officer.