Crime

‘Smell of gunfire, smell of blood:’ York Co. video tells part 2 of police shooting

Part 2 of 3: York County officers recall police shooting, manhunt in January 2018

Interviews with Emergency Management Assistant Director and York County Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team Medic Mike Channell and York Police Sgt. Kyle Cummings - York County Sheriff’s Office SWAT member.
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Interviews with Emergency Management Assistant Director and York County Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team Medic Mike Channell and York Police Sgt. Kyle Cummings - York County Sheriff’s Office SWAT member.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story listed an incorrect name for Emergency Management Assistant Director and SWAT team medic Mike Channell, who responded to the Jan. 15, 2018 call.

York County SWAT team member Sgt. Kyle Cummings thought he was going to die in the early morning hours of Jan. 16, 2018.

For the first time, one year later, he has talked publicly about the people who saved his life.

Cummings was one of the four York County officers shot in an “ambush” during a manhunt for a domestic violence suspect the night of Jan. 15 and early morning of Jan. 16, 2018.

SWAT team member Det. Mike Doty died from his injuries Jan. 17, 2018.

The York County Sheriff’s Office released part two of a three-part video series on the shooting Wednesday. The third and final video will be released Thursday.

In the first video, officers talked about how the night began. After a 911 call reporting a domestic violence incident, a York County K-9 Unit lead by Sgt. Randy Clinton searched a York wooded neighborhood for the suspect, Christian McCall.

Clinton was shot twice. He returned to work Monday, a year after the incident.

In the second video, Cummings and Sgt. Buddy Brown, SWAT members who were shot along with Doty, described searching for McCall. Doty was part of their group.

Brown said he pointed out a house’s back deck to search. That turned out to be McCall’s hiding spot. Brown said he and Doty were shot almost immediately.

Cummings was later shot in the gunfight. The bullet that struck Cummings was later found to be a police bullet, likely fired by another SWAT team member. But McCall was held responsible in court and pleaded guilty for the attempted murder of Cummings.

In the second video, the sheriff’s office included the audio of Lt. Heath Clevenger calling for medics for two injured law enforcement officers.

Emergency Management Assistant Director and SWAT team medic Mike Channell said he was working by his instinct and training amid the chaos.

“I immediately ran to Kyle, who was screaming in pain, bleeding profusely from the gunshot wound,” Channell said.

Cummings had been shot in the thigh.

“I thought I was gonna bleed to death,” Cummings said in the video. “Just the way I was bleeding. I could feel the blood spurting. I thought I was done. I really did. I didn’t think there was any coming back.”

He said he didn’t think the medics would get to him in time — they would have to wait until the suspect was controlled.

“That’s just how life works,” he said. “That’s how it works. I mean you can’t expose them to gunfire, you just can’t. I was just laying there — and next thing I know, here comes the medics.”

Emergency Management director and SWAT team medic Chuck Haynes said he couldn’t fit a tourniquet high enough on Cummings and had to plug the bullet wound with his finger and gauze.

“I was kind of overtaken by the smell of gunfire, by the smell of blood,” Haynes said. “Just the organized chaos that was going on. Everybody knew that things had to be done, but it was cold, it was dark, people were hurt, our friends were hurt and we needed to do a lot of things in a short amount of time.”

Cummings’ wife didn’t make it to the hospital before he went into surgery, Haynes said. So Cummings gave Haynes his wedding ring to give to her. He had to find a sink first, Haynes said — it was covered in blood.

Cummings seemed to choke back emotions remembering the people who came for him that night.

“They came,” Cummings said. “Without any regards to personal safety. They didn’t know if the suspect was still able to fire, but they didn’t care. They had no reservations about what they were doing whatsoever. They came, and they got to me. And they saved my life.”

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Hannah Smoot reports on money and power for The Herald, covering York, Lancaster and Chester counties. She has been a reporter at The Herald since June 2017. Contact Hannah at 803-329-4068, hgsmoot@heraldonline.com or follow her on Twitter @hgsmoot.
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