Brian Michaels' concern for El Paso County sheriff's Deputy Scott Stone, who was shot Monday in a gunbattle during an attempted auto-theft arrest, goes beyond that of a pastor for a parishioner.
Michaels, pastor of Springs Lighthouse Church, has known Stone since the deputy was a child, but the men grew closer after Michaels became a reserve deputy about a year ago.
They patrol together about once a week.
Michaels rushed to UCHealth Memorial Hospital Central Monday night, and Stone was asking for him.
"I went back there, and he was laying there and he kind of smiled a half-crooked smile - he's all doped up - and he said, 'I hit the ground, I couldn't move my leg, and I thought, Where's Brian when I need him?'" Michaels said.
"A great compliment, but it also just was like ... " the pastor trailed off and groaned.
Dozens gathered Wednesday night in a courtyard outside the church to pray for Stone and the other officers and a passer-by who were wounded.
A shootout erupted Monday afternoon while members of a regional auto theft task force were trying to arrest a suspect auto thief. Deputy Micah Flick was slain.
Stone, sheriff's Sgt. Jacob Abendschan, Colorado Springs police Detective Marcus Yanez and Thomas Villanueva, a civilian, were injured.
The shooter - Manuel Zetina, 19, of Colorado Springs - also was killed.
Stone remains hospitalized, but is eager to get back to work, Michaels said.
"As soon as he can work the road, I'll be out there with him as much as I can," Michaels said. In the meantime, his duties as a reserve deputy continue. After the vigil wrapped up Wednesday night, he was scheduled for a 12-hour shift, providing security outside the Flick family house.
"We're providing round-the-clock presence at Micah Flick's home," he said.
The pastor read a message from Stone's wife, Aleyana, updating the congregation on his condition.
Nausea has made it difficult for him to sleep, and the bullet likely will stay lodged near his pelvic bone forever because "it's in there pretty good and it's just not worth the risk to take it out," she wrote. He has begun physical therapy and hopefully will be out of the hospital in a few days.
"I get to sit here watching my loving husband sleep soundly beside me and I am eternally grateful that God wrapped around him and saved his life," Aleyana Stone's message says in part. "It's so hard for me to understand God's plan, but that's okay, we need to have faith in His will. I would never wish this kind of pain and grief on anyone. This has truly been a roller-coaster ride of emotions, but I get to hold my other half a little harder, kiss him a little longer, continue to laugh at his goofiness and hear the sweet sound of him playing with our son. I praise God that I still get that joy, but I will never forget that not everyone is as lucky right now."
Michaels' wife, Jeanine, is helping organize a blood drive from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sunday in the parking lot outside the church for those looking for a way to help.
"Everyone feels so helpless right now," she said. "This is a tangible way that we can help the our community the way these officers have helped our community. I think it's important for people to have an outlet to do something."
A meal train also has been started to feed Scott and his family in the hospital. To sign up, visit mealtrain.com/trains/7nm1qm.
Contact Ellie Mulder: 636-0198