Injured deputy back at work |

Injured deputy back at work

Sheila Gardner

Shannon Litz / Tribune News Service/ Robert Duffy shows his injured hand during an interview at the Douglas County Sheriff's Office on Monday.

MINDEN – Deputy Robert Duffy, injured nearly five months ago in a shootout at a Gardnerville mobile home park, is back at work at the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.

“It’s been a very long and very painful road back,” Duffy said Monday. “I’m happy the hard work paid off.”

Duffy, 31, returned to full-time, modified duty on Aug. 22, assigned to investigations.

On Monday, he was processing evidence.

“I’m learning a lot about evidence,” he said. “Before, we just put in the locker.”

He was injured April 2 when a suspect being questioned in an early morning traffic stop fired a rifle at him, blowing a silver-dollar-sized hole through his left hand.

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The man, Joshua Petri, 27, committed suicide moments later, shooting himself in the head.

Doctors removed Duffy’s ring finger and he has undergone five surgeries since the incident, the most recent on July 5.

“I had a CAT scan earlier this week and everything is healing as well as can be expected,” he said.

Duffy said his surgeon was pleased at how rapidly he is recuperating.

The eight-year veteran of the sheriff’s department originally thought it would be a year to 18 months before he could return to work.

“The doctor is really amazed,” Duffy said.

He credited his recovery to intensive physical therapy and the support he received from his family, the sheriff’s department and the community.

“I am really grateful for the way the department has treated me,” he said. “There has been nothing but support from the department and the community and especially my wife Aimee and the rest of my family.”

He suffered a bit of a setback when he ruptured a tendon in his injured hand during physical therapy.

“Think of it as a rubber band attached between pinkie and the wrist that snapped. It was very disheartening,” he said.

As happy as he is to be back at work, Duffy said he is eager to get back to patrol.

“When I am back on patrol, that’ll be the real time to celebrate,” he said. “That’s what I am happy doing.”

Duffy said there was some apprehension in returning to work after such a life-threatening incident, but he was ready to deal with it.

“I’ve ridden around a little bit since I came back. It definitely will be different in the patrol car, but I am ready to face it head on,” he said. “It’s definitely helped being back.”

Sheriff Ron Pierini said he was happy Duffy was able to return to work.

“He wanted to return to work as fast as he could. He loves his job and he just made up his mind that this thing was not going to overwhelm him,” Pierini said. “That positive attitude helped him get better quickly to come back and to drive that black-and-white car. That was his mission.”

Pierini said Duffy was providing a valuable service to the department.

“It keeps him active and back in the loop around here,” Pierini said. “It was very difficult for him day after day sitting at home waiting for his hand to heal.”

Duffy said the one downside at returning to duty was being away from his 13-month-old son Jacob.

“My first day leaving him was hard,” Duffy said. “He’s my little pal.”