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Bulletproof vest helps Pottawatomie County deputy survive four shots to chest

Pottawatomie County, OK, sheriff's Deputy Joe Leeds was shot four times in the chest Wednesday night during a routine traffic stop in Bethel Acres west of Shawnee. He says he the brush with death has given him a new appreciation for life and for being prepared to do his job.
BY ANN KELLEY Modified: August 20, 2010 at 6:07 am •  Published: August 20, 2010
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— Joe Leeds' three children remind him daily how important it is to wear his bulletproof vest.

"Every day when I leave the house, one of them says 'I love you, Dad — don't get dead,'" Leeds said. "They're the reason why I do this job and why I make it home every day."

The Pottawatomie County sheriff's deputy was shot four times in the chest Wednesday night during what should have been a routine traffic stop in Bethel Acres west of Shawnee. His bullet-stopping vest not only helped save his life, but prevented him from being seriously injured.

He was treated and released that night from a hospital.

Law enforcement officials Thursday continued to search for a red 1990s model, Chevrolet extended-cab pickup and the three men inside it.

A white man in the back seat rolled down his window and opened fire on Leeds with a small-caliber weapon, he said.

"It felt like getting hit at close range with a paintball gun," Leeds said.

Leeds, 36, said he instinctively reverted to tactical training he received through the Oklahoma County sheriff's office. He moved quickly out of the shooter's point blank range, returned fire and says he likely struck the pickup.

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How to help
Anyone with information about the shooting can call the Pottawatomie County Sheriff's Department at 273-1727.

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