VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) - The Indiana Sheriff's Association is honoring a Vigo County Sheriff's Deputy.
Deputy Elias Donker recently received the 'Deputy Sheriff of the Year' award.
Vigo County Sheriff John Plasse nominated him after a shooting earlier this year. Both the sheriff and Vigo County Prosecutor Terry Modesitt said Donker saved lives as a man shot at police.
Just last week, the prosecutor said Donker was legally justified in the deadly shooting.
We talked with Deputy Donker about that shooting. Here's what he had to say.
"I'll never forget the copper glean of his bullets going by me in the morning sun going up the ridge," Donker said.
It happened on April 11. Donker was one of the first on the scene in West Terre Haute. "We had deputies pinned down under fire out in the open field."
Donker said someone needed to get to a ridge in the woods to take control of the situation before the shooter did.
"Honestly, I went up there thinking if I got up there, on that piece of terrain, he would realize he was out-maneuvered and would surrender to me," Donker told us.
But Donker and the other officers there say that's not what happened.
"I popped back out and yelled at the suspect again and then he continued and he fired one more shot at us," Indiana State Police Sgt. Matt Ames said.
"He popped up and his last shot slammed into a tree that I was using for cover about four-inches away from Trooper Ames' head," Donker said.
Donker returned fire, ultimately hitting and killing Errol Bolin. "He and I saw each other through the brush, he was raising his pistol, and I was faster. And, I hated everything about it. That's not the ending you hope for."
Donker went on to say he didn't see Bolin as the enemy. "Errol Bolin wasn't our enemy. Meth and illegal drugs are the enemy of the whole community...I want to use this to plead with you to get help or help people. People are worth helping."
Donker says he never goes into a day expecting this kind of situation, but years of military and law enforcement service prepared him for quick action...an action local leaders say saved lives.
"I've been trained by far better men and women than me on a real simple creed that no one gets left behind. And that's what we did," Donker told us.
Investigators say Bolin had multiple guns and knives spread out through the woods.