Officer Richard “Dic” Donohue of the MBTA Transit Police sat smiling next to his wife, Kim, this morning in the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital gym overlooking the harbor. Just 30 days ago, he was shot in an exchange of gunfire in Watertown between police and the two Boston Marathon bombing suspects and nearly died of his injuries.
“This afternoon I’m feeling pretty decent,” he said. “I’m moving around on crutches a fair bit, the pain’s not too bad. I’m getting stronger and healthier by the day. It’s a good feeling.”
Donohue iced his leg, his crutches nearby, as he spoke about the pain he suffers from nerve damage.
“I’m definitely not 100 percent, and I definitely have nights where I don’t sleep well; I sleep a couple hours here and there,” said Donohue. “[I’m] working through it and working around it with the doctors and physical therapists and trying to move forward.”
Donohue had been called to the scene of the shootout in a quiet Watertown neighborhood where more than 300 shots were exchanged between police and the bombing suspects, brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
He said he was struck by a bullet in the right groin area, which severed his femoral artery and caused him to bleed out profusely. The bullet is still inside him.
Donohue was rushed to Mount Auburn Hospital where he was operated on and monitored until his move to the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Charlestown Thursday.
“He had severe blood loss,” said his wife, Kim. “A doctor came and told me he barely had a drop left by the time they got to him.”
Donohue said he doesn’t remember much from the night MIT Police Office Sean Collier was shot in Cambridge and the early morning shootout in Watertown. When he woke up in Mount Auburn Hospital, he didn’t understand why he was there.
“I wasn’t shot,” Donohue responded when Kim and his brother told him what had happened. Not until later did he realize how serious the situation was.
He was kept from watching television news to protect him from learning more about the bombings until he was ready.
His family and friends also did not want him to find out from TV about the death of Collier, his friend with whom he graduated from the police academy.
“It was a lot of information for someone in that type of pain to process,” said Kim.
The shootout is still under investigation, but the Globe has reported that a neighbor who witnessed it said Donohue was hit by another officer.
“If it was friendly fire, it was friendly fire,” Donohue said. “We got the job done and the other suspect got captured shortly after, so I’m just happy with that. It doesn’t bother me.”
Both suspects were stopped, he said, and that was what mattered most.
“As far as the first suspect, he was taken care of on scene,” said Donohue.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was killed in the shootout. His brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, was wounded and later arrested. He is being held at Federal Medical Center Devens.
“Of course you have anger,” he said. “I couldn’t process it then and I couldn’t tell you how I was feeling then ... but I’m glad the second suspect has been caught.”
When asked if Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who faces federal charges that could bring the death penalty, should be executed, Donohue declined to comment. The state and federal government can handle it however they saw fit, he said.
Although Donohue continues to improve, it remains unclear when he will be headed home and returning to work.
“It could be a couple weeks, it could be a couple days, I don’t know,” he said about his condition. “We’re just playing it by ear and seeing how each physical therapy session goes.”Derek J. Anderson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.