Berkeley County Sheriff Corporal Kimber Gist limped to the podium. Her ankle, wrapped tightly and securely inside a medical boot, was the result of another surgery; her fifth since surviving an on duty shooting that nearly took her life.
Despite the days, and weeks, and months that had passed since Gist was shot multiple times while on patrol, the memory remains clear.
On the night of the shooting, Gist said she remembers spotting a suspicious-looking vehicle parked in an empty parking lot in Goose Creek. Curious, she parked her patrol car and approached the vehicle. Gist observed a man and woman in the front seat; both appeared extremely nervous.
Gist separated the suspects, placing the man in the back of the patrol car. She then asked the woman to step out of the vehicle and put her hands on the hood. The next thing she remembers is hearing a loud popping noise followed by a bright flash.
That was the first gunshot.
The shot whizzed by her ear. Gist smelled the gunpowder and felt a burning sensation. Fear set in, not for her safety, but the media scrutiny that she assumed was sure to follow.
Pop. Pop. Pop.
Successive gunshots grazed her lip, hip, abdomen, her ankle, and the radio connected to her belt. Gist fired back, trying to stop the shooter – and save her life.
The suspects fled the scene. The entire shootout lasted less than two minutes, but Gist remembers it felt like hours.
“Everything was in slow motion,” she said.
Spitting out blood, Gist grabbed her radio and shouted, “Shots fired.”
“I refused to lie down in the middle of the road and die,” she continued.
Gist waved down a car and told the driver to call 911. Still unfazed by her noticeable injuries, Gist said she couldn’t understand why the driver looked at her with shock and tears.
The shooting left Gist with multiple bullet wounds and one deaf ear.
Gist, a self-proclaimed fighter and small-town country girl from Woodruff, South Carolina, was hailed as a hero. “I don’t feel like a hero, because this is something I chose to do,” she said. “I went into this job knowing that something like this could happen – I didn’t think it would be me – but I knew it could happen.”
As she slowly began to recover in the hospital, Gist, a student in CSU’s master of science in criminal justice program, stunned everyone when she continued to submit her classwork.
“Within a couple days of her surgery, she was sending in classwork,” said criminal justice professor Gary Metts. “I’m saying, ‘How’s this classwork coming in?’ We went to the hospital and told her she didn’t have to worry about this. But she was still turning in the homework.”
She shuffled around behind the podium before finally pulling up a chair to ease the pain from standing on her surgically repaired ankle. Gist looked into the crowd and made a promise.
“I’ll be back; it’s just a matter of time,” she said.
She kept her promise.
In January, the Berkeley County Sheriff’s office published a post on Facebook that read: “Welcome back to full duty to Corporal Kimber Gist! We are so glad that she is back!”
The sheriff’s Facebook account blew up with words of support and encouragement from across the country.
Tom Kelley Corporal Gist…Nothing I could write in words could reflect how I feel about your return … I say Thank You and all Law Enforcement and Public Safety Officers for not only performing a job, but such service. Welcome back!
Scott D. White Beautiful. Brave. Warrior. Proud of her, the Sheriff’s Office, and the people of Berkeley County for their support of this HERO.
Rosa H. Law welcome back God bless you and you and all officers are in my prayers for safety as you perform your duties making us safer.
Hope Trahan McKiernan Welcome back Corporal Gist! Thank you for your courage.
Mike Lawson Thank you for your service and sacrifice Corporal Gist! You are my hero. Stay safe