Knoxville community opens veins, wallets, heart for officer Rickman

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Knoxville police say at least one of officer Norman Rickman's bullet wounds was inflicted at close range, but three days after he was shot stopping a burglary, they're still saying very little about where he was hit.

Rickman remains in critical condition, and Volunteer TV is told he is sedated following surgery, with fellow officers visiting his family there frequently.

Beyond the hope officer Rickman himself is providing, much comfort comes from fellow officers, citizens, and perfect strangers who've opened their veins, their wallets, and their hearts.

“We've been here sixty years, so everybody knows us.”

All slices of life get their locks trimmed at Ernie Barnes’ East Knoxville Barber shop.

“We get a lot of police officers.”

Officer Norman Rickman's never sat in his chair -- but once wounded -- Ernie says there's no question he'd take up a collection.

Ernie says, “He's a police officer. He's protecting us I reckon--gotta take care of him.”

Fellow officers clearly are taking care of their own.

80 pints of blood were drawn in a special drive at the safety building yesterday.

Officer Kenneth Bush hit Medic Regional Blood Center on his lunch hour today.

“We're pretty close friends, and like I said when one of our family is in need, it's no different than any other family--we come together and try to support him.”

Christi Fightmaster with Medic Regional Blood Center says, “We've seen several new faces thanks to all of the publicity that we've gotten, and so many people wanting to make a difference, and help make a difference.”

UT Business Major Aneel Bhimani is among them, and says he’s doing it “To help out the officer--he gives a lot back to the community to help him out too.”

It's more than passing the cookie jar. The Knoxville Law Enforcement Credit Union has been taking donations since the day after the shooting. The credit union has even set up a special fund.

KPD Capt. Gary Holliday says, “We expect it from here, but we're really--I guess-- humbled is the word to use about the outpouring of support that we've gotten in the past two days.”

Support so overwhelming, that police now ask that you send any cards or letters for officer Rickman to the safety building, rather than UT Medical Center. The hospital's running out of space, and officer Rickman's not allowed flowers in intensive care.

If you'd like to give blood, Medic says there’s a special blood drive at Ray Viles Ford on Clinton Highway Saturday, and police say, by all means, keep officer Rickman, his family, and his fellow officers in your prayers.

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