SPD: Officers face months of recovery

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SANDPOINT — Two Sandpoint Police officers shot in the line of duty early Monday morning are back home with their families, but face months of recovery, Chief Corey Coon told the City Council on Wednesday.

Officer Eric Clark was shot in the neck and hand during the deadly confrontation on Ridley Village Road. He was released from Kootenai Health on Tuesday and returned to Coeur d’Alene on Wednesday to see a hand specialist.

“His recovery time with his hand wound, they’re looking at three to four months,” Coon said.

Clark and his wife, who is eight months pregnant, have an 18-month-old son.

Officer Mike Hutter, who was reportedly wearing body armor, was shot in the chest and leg and Coon said Hutter’s recovery is expected to last more than a month.

“Both officers are in good spirits for the circumstances that they’re in so we appreciate your guys’ support and the community’s support, which is absolutely outstanding,” Coon told council members.

Mayor Shelby Rognstad said the council’s thoughts and minds would be with the officers.

“Officers Clark and Hutter performed courageously, doing their duty to serve our citizens and ensure public safety and welfare,” Rognstad said.

Rognstad added that city officials’ hearts also go out to those in the community who were impacted by the “senseless tragedy.”

“The violence and affront to public safety in no way represents or characterizes our community. Rather, our community is characterized by the overwhelming support demonstrated by public safety servants such as our police force and the citizens that came together to welcome Clark home from the hospital and to support others traumatized by the tragedy and aftermath,” Rognstad said.

Sandpoint Police said officers were summoned to the home shortly after 3 a.m. and Brandon Theodore Kuhlman, 28, opened fire on Clark and Hutter shortly after their arrival.

A shootout ensued and Kulhman, 28, was found deceased, police said.

Kuhlman’s grandfather, meanwhile, spoke with Spokane TV station KXLY and said his grandson had schizophrenia and had been using drugs.

William Crawford told the station that Kuhlman took his pistol on the night before the shooting.

Crawford told KHQ that he left his door unlocked when he went to visit a neighbor and believes Kuhlman entered the apartment and took the handgun, the only one that wasn’t locked up.

Crawford said he confronted Kuhlman about the missing gun and even patted him down to see if he had it.

Crawford said he took Kuhlman back to the apartment to search for the gun. Crawford said Kuhlman, who had stopped taking his prescribed medication, was high on methamphetamine and heroin. Kuhlman was “out of his mind,” paranoid and seeing spirits, Crawford told the station.

Crawford said he summoned police so Kuhlman could be taken into protective custody. Kuhlman opened fire on the officers when Crawford opened the door to police.

Crawford suffered a heart attack amid the shooting and recalled Kuhlman saying, “I’m dying. I need an ambulance.”

The officer-involved shooting remains under investigation by the North Idaho Critical Incident Task Force.

Keith Kinnaird can be reached by email at kkinnaird@bonnercountydailybee.com and follow him on Twitter @KeithDailyBee.

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