HOUSTON - It's been nearly a week since a deadly ambush in north Harris Co., where three officers were shot, one of them tragically died. FOX 26 spoke exclusively with one of the deputies, a day after he was released from the hospital. one of the three deputies shot early Saturday morning in the fatal shooting that killed Harris County Constable Precinct 4 Deputy Kareem Atkins.
The three Precinct 4 deputies worked security together at a bar along the North Freeway every Friday night since the beginning of the year but early Saturday was unlike any other time when a gunman with an A.R. 15 rifle opened fire on them, shooting all three.
Two of the officers, survived but one of them, later identified as Harris County Constable Precinct 4 Deputy Kareem Atkins, tragically succumbed to his injuries.
Deputy Juqaim Barthen, 26, a 2-year-veteran with Pct. 4 suffered minor injuries after he was shot in the foot and received a warm welcome from supporters. He is still in the recovery stages.
"It actually broke one of my bones and destroyed a lot of tissue and muscle," Deputy Barthen explains. "Like right under my calf. It was pretty much in and out. It left like a big, big scar. I’m in a lot of pain."
However, even as the Harris County Precinct 4 Deputy Constable recovers from being shot in his lower leg, his physical pain pales in comparison to the hurt in his heart after losing his friend Deputy Kareem Atkins.
"I was just broken. I couldn’t believe I lost somebody that was this close to me," says Deputy Barthen. "Somebody that’s a great person, a great family man. He loves his kids. He loves his family. Emotionally I’m really drained of it, really, really drained."
RELATED: Manhunt continues for gunman that shot 3 deputies, killing one of them
The Precinct 4 constable deputies, Barthen, Atkins, and Darryl Garret for more than two years have been more than brothers in blue and more like family on and off the clock.
"Besides my supervisor, they were the first two people to actually greet me. So the moment I met them it was like God just spoke to me, like man those two guys are going to be some type of major impact on your life."
Early Saturday morning around 2:15 a.m. as Deputies Atkins and Garret were ambushed outside the bar, shot with an A-R 15 rifle from behind, Barthen ran out to help and was also shot.
"I couldn’t believe somebody would do something like that, especially to us being in full uniform," he said.
Deputy Barthen was in the Emergency Room being worked on by doctors when he learned Atkins had died.
"I overheard one of my co-workers say it from one of the other rooms and I just broke down, broke down I could not stop crying," he said. "When we were actually boarding the ambulance I saw him and I just knew he didn’t look like himself."
After holding hands there in the hospital, praying together, and staying right by his side Barthen is now home with his beautiful wife Deidra Agbim-Barthen and still recovering after two surgeries.
"I’m either walking around with a walker or the little knee scooter," Deputy Barthen added.
The 26-year-old was released from the hospital Wednesday after five days there. The same day Deputy Darryl Garret was taken off the ventilator and is breathing on his own.
"Today I was talking on FaceTime with his fiancé and she gave me the opportunity to see him and see how he was doing," he said. "He was trying to say he loves us and ah [sic] man it was heartwarming. I was so glad to just see him and hear him. At the end of the day, I still don’t like seeing him in that state, in pain."
Deputy Barthen realizes a long road of recovery is ahead, physically and emotionally.
"Just the scene is steady replaying in my head over and over and over and it’s like nothing you can really control," he explained. "It’s just something you've got to deal with and it’s very painful. I just want justice and I really just want to know why would you do something like this? For anybody that knows this guy just go ahead and turn him in. We don’t need nobody like that walking around the streets."
Deputy Barthen says he appreciates all the prayers and is grateful to the patrons who helped him there at the bar after he was shot. They wrapped his leg to stop the bleeding and tried to comfort him as much as possible. There is a $76,000 reward if you tell investigators who the gunman is.
The Barthen family already have mounting medical bills and the deputy says he may have another surgery and will have to undergo extensive rehab. If you'd like to help, click here.