BENSENVILLE, Ill. — In law enforcement, the primary objective is always to make it home safely.
When it comes to Steven Kotlewski, after eight bullets to the body, hours of surgery and months of hospitalization, he is finally home, living a drastically different life than the one he began that November shift with.
Officer Kotlewski was dispatched to a domestic disturbance call early on the morning of November 6 when something seemed off.
“This is going to sound corny, but the whole “it’s way too quiet,” it was way too quiet for domestic. Nobody was yelling, the door is open,” Kotlewski said.
Within mere moments after entering, a 21-year-old man appeared with a gun in his hands and opened fire. Pulling the trigger 10 times, eight bullets hit his body, with a ninth bullet penetrating his vest.
Seconds later, fellow officer Patrick Scanlan arrived, noticing that Kotlewski was bleeding profusely, as a bullet had shattered an artery in one of his legs.
“He applied two tourniquets. Dude, Scanlon is a stud because he picked me up like I was nothing. He’s a gym rat so he just threw me in the car,” Kotlewski said.
Kotlewski underwent 50 hours of surgery to repair damaged organs, bones and blood vessels, and is back at home navigating a new life and a road to recovery.
The past few months have taken a significant toll on Kotlewski’s three children and wife Crystal, who was unsure of the outcome when hearing a knock on her door at 2:30 a.m.
“I see the looks on their faces and I knew it was bad,” Crystal said. “A lot was going through my head and I couldn’t really function, couldn’t walk, couldn’t breathe, it was taking over physically and I have never felt that way before.”
When not in rehab Monday through Friday, Kotlewski can be found rekindling his love for playing the bass and painting. In the future, he looks forward to the day he can return to the force.