Waldenville, a 25-year veteran of the sheriff's office, has a master's degree in business administration and is the supervisor of the sheriff's administrative services bureau, Whetsel said. He also worked off-duty at the restaurant on a regular basis.
‘Angel on earth'
Whetsel said he first visited Waldenville at the hospital and went to the scene of the shooting to see it for himself, and met with Oklahoma City police officer Katie Lawson there.
“She was one of the first officers on the scene, holding his hand and talking to him,” Whetsel said, and waited with him until paramedics arrived and took him to the hospital.
“She was with John last night. When I heard that, I can't explain the feeling that came over me. It was a sign to me that he was going to live,” Whetsel said.
“She truly is an angel on earth,” he said.
Lawson, 28, was ambushed in August while assisting an Oklahoma County sheriff's deputy on a traffic stop outside a man's home. She was shot multiple times with an AR-15 assault rifle. The suspected shooter — the 18-year-old son of the man arrested on a drunken driving complaint that night — fired 26 rounds from the rifle before Lawson was able to return fire and radio for help. She returned to duty earlier this year, according to The Oklahoman archives.
Family by his side
Waldenville's wife and one of his sons, as well as numerous deputies and their families, have been with Waldenville at OU Medical Center since he was shot.
“He meets a lot of people and the outpouring and the support has been phenomenal,” wife Marjorie Waldenville said Saturday.
“ ... I really believe with all my heart, I know he'll pull through and do well. It will be a long road to recovery,” she said.
“He'll be back as soon as he possibly can. I think that's been kind of a little joke around here is that if he could, he'd be back to work in a week,” son Jason Waldenville said.
Waldenville and Whetsel's relationship spans decades. Waldenville once owned a restaurant in Choctaw when Whetsel was the city's police chief.
“He's there day and night,” Whetsel said, mentioning that Waldenville often comes into the office at night and on weekends to work when it's quiet.
“Just as soon as that good eye opens up, we'll have a laptop up here for him,” Whetsel joked.