ETHERIDGE, Tenn. - Friends and co-workers call Byron Shelton a hero. The Lawrence County Sheriff's Deputy is credited with saving a woman's life-- by nearly giving his own-- after her estranged husband held a gun to her head.
Corporal Byron Shelton is recovering at his home in Etheridge. NewsChannel 5 spoke to him with his family and fiancée at his side.
Shelton said it was the only time he's drawn his gun to protect himself.
"I heard a voice. A woman pleading for her life," Shelton said.
It happened inside a home just over a week ago in Leoma. Shelton was trying to stop a fight between 42-year-old Whit McCormack and his estranged wife.
Shelton said he walked into a back bedroom and saw the bathroom light on. He said McCormack held a gun to his estranged wife's head.
"He was over her kneeling down with his hand I guess up around her neck and had the Glock pointed at her like this," said Shelton. "He never said a word to me. He just, where that Glock was, he just brought it around toward me."
At that point Shelton said years of training kicked in.
"I fired a round and almost simultaneously he fired a round at me too," Shelton said.
A bullet hit Shelton in the abdomen. He said he retreated to the bedroom, but the gunman followed and more shots were fired. This time Shelton was hit in the hip.
"When I first got hit my family went through my mind. I'm hit. I don't know how bad," Shelton said.
A Life Flight helicopter flew Shelton to Vanderbilt Hospital. For his family it was crazy.
"It was nerve racking," said his fiancée Heather Slater.
Slater is a part-time 911 operator. She's had experience with shootings.
"It just taught us a lesson not to take each other for granted. You're never guaranteed to walk through that door when you walk out it," added Slater.
McCormack died. Police said they found him hunched over a wicker clothes basket inside the bathroom with the gun still in his hand.
McCormack shot Shelton with a 45 caliber handgun. Shelton expects to fully recover, but he said it will be 4 or 5 months before he can go back to work.
Shelton said McCormack wanted to kill his wife because he was angry over the amount of child support he would have to pay her in the divorce.