SANTA FE, Texas (FOX 26) - Santa Fe ISD Officer John Barnes, 49, was discharged from the hospital Wednesday and is now checked in at a local, rehabilitation facility. Barnes spent nearly three weeks in intensive care after he was one of dozens of people shot during a deadly shooting at Sante Fe High School May 18.
After visiting his friend and former colleague in the hospital, Houston Police Captain Jim Dale said Officer Barnes doesn't understand why people are calling him a hero. To Barnes, running towards danger is just part of the job.
"He couldn't believe it. He was like 'why, that's what we all do'. I go, 'I know, but you went in there-- I didn't go in, nobody else did-- so you saved lives'. He just doesn't really grasp that yet. So he's got a lot of physical rehab as well as emotional rehab to go through what he went through and the emotional toll it will take on a person," Dale said.
Dale said Barnes was able to describe the shooting in detail. Barnes will now undergo inpatient rehab at a local hospital, where he'll focus on recovering movement to his arm and strengthen the rest of his body.
Doctors said Barnes sustained a gunshot wound to an artery and bone in his arm and suffered severe blood loss in the hours following the deadly shooting at Santa Fe High School.
In Barnes' 22 years of service, he's never been injured to this extent, according to Dale.
Barnes retired from HPD in January and ironically, told Dale he was looking forward to an "easier life."
"He said I'm just going to go live an easier life. He told me that at the hospital in Santa Fe. And that just goes to show you, in this profession, there's no such thing as an easy life. This kind of danger and evil will strike at any time," Dale said.
Dale said he and Barnes went through police academy together and over the years, he's watched as Barnes won numerous awards for his bravery and service-- a testament to his character.
"It wasn't surprising when I heard about it. He would be the first one in the building, to eliminate the threat," Dale said.
It's unclear how long Barnes will remain in rehab. His family told Dale it's something they'll take on a day-to-day basis.
Houston police officers will also undergo active shooter training in September, which typically incorporates real-life shooting scenarios, according to Dale. The training was apparently already scheduled before the Santa Fe shooting, but will now likely include lessons learned from Santa Fe.