A New Leaf, Part 1

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Knoxville (WVLT) - You often hear stories about how traumatic events in peoples lives result in dramatic change.

That's never more evident than in the life of Tommy McGouey.

You may remember his name from an attempted officer assisted suicide here in Knoxville a few years ago.

Now years later, he says he's a changed man.

Volunteer TV's Stacy McCloud brings you his story.

"I thought death was the best route for me and that there was nothing else I could do," Tommy McGouey says of his suicide attempt 2003.

"I pulled over the hill and it was traffic stopped, trucks, people standing out in the street, news crew was there, police all around," says Connie Dodgen.

The moments Tommy McGouey and Connie Dodgen are re-living happened three and a half years ago, but are as clear as if they were yesterday.

"It was one of, well the worst, I had been through," says Connie.

After years of drugs and drinking, McGouey's girlfriend Connie finally had enough. "I was done and had let him know that."

Within hours of leaving, it quickly became the morning McGouey decided his life was no longer worth living. "It was a total sense of non purpose of having no purpose in this life."

Just after 1:00 a.m. on September 13, 2003, McGouey put his plan of a police assisted suicide into place.

"I knew it wasn't the right thing to do it," Tommy says.

After calling 911 saying a man was outside his apartment with a gun, he walked outside, unloaded pellet gun in hand, and waited.

"I prayed for forgiveness and that it would be over fast," McGouey never planned to hurt anyone, the only life he wanted to end was his own.

But when he brandished his unloaded weapon, police were put in a situation in which they had no choice but to react. "I was shot at by 6 police officers 27 times at fairy close range/"

How McGouey survived no one could quite figure out.

Meantime from behind bars, "I was sent to jail, spent my time, 18 months."

McGouey says he found the clues to solve the mystery of how his life was spared that night. "These are trained professionals, I do believe God was there protecting me."

A realization that came through a new addiction. "Psalm 18:4-6 says in my anguish I cried out to the Lord and the Lord heard my cries and answered my pleas."

McGouey says the word of God filled the emptiness that had consumed him for so many years prior to that lonely September night.

Leaving him forever changed and at the front door of Peace At Last Ministries.

"The Lord has a way of opening doors that seem unopenable and I became a member and client of this wonderful facility."

From client he grew to become associate executive director of the ministry, living with and mentoring to men that are trying to correct that beaten path he was once down.

"The program is six months to a year and I didn't know at the time I would be serving a life sentence here at peace at last, and I'm just really happy about it," Tommy says. "By helping others that is where i get the peace and joy I have missed for so long."

Joy reconnected here at the ministry, but even more by the woman, he now can call his bride to be, who despite it all has stood by his side.

"Love, faith, hope that it's gonna work out," Tommy says.

Far from proud of the event, it's a chapter in McGoey's life he says he's glad happened, because in the end it's made life so much more sweet.

Sadly, the end to Tommy's life of good may come way too soon.

Just weeks ago, Tommy was told he is dying of stage four liver cancer.

Coming up in Part 2, find what he is doing with the few months doctors say he has left and what he asks the community do to help keep his testimony alive.

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