'You're literally a target': Closer look at officers being shot while on duty

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HOUSTON – In the line of duty, law enforcement officers never know what each day will bring.

On Monday, heartbreak hit Houston when five Houston Police Department officers were injured. Four of them were shot, according to police.

"Every day, when you put the gun and the badge on and you leave the house, you certainly don't know if you're going to make it back to the family," Precinct 4 Constable Mark Herman said.

Herman knows. His deputy constables Chris Gaines and Justin Gay were both shot multiple times while serving their communities.

Gay was shot seven times when responding to a domestic dispute.

"I was mentally preparing myself to die right there," Gay said of the shooting.

Gaines was shot while responding to a potential suicide in April 2018.

"In this date and time, it takes a very special person to be a police officer," Herman said.

Both Gay and Gaines are now back at work.

More and more cases are surfacing.

"This year, I believe we've already had nine officers shot. And then you add the others who were just shot the other day from us, and we see the statistics (for) shootings at officers are up," Herman said.

In May 2018, Santa Fe Independent School District Officer John Barnes took a bullet to his elbow, shattering an artery. Doctors said he flatlined twice, but he survived.

In December 2018, an Harris County deputy and two Texas attorney general agents were gunned down in an effort to catch a wanted man with a history of crime. All survived.

Later that month, two Houston Police Department officers survived a fiery crash with a drunken driver on Christmas Eve.

"Our officers are out there every single day putting our lives on the line," Houston Police Officers' Union President Joe Gamaldi said.

Some officers didn't make it home.

According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, 144 officers were killed in the line of duty last year.

"You're literally a target out there for the bad guys," Herman said.

Leaders say, despite the odds, their teams work hard to protect and serve. They say the injured officers are not alone.

"We pray for them and look forward to them returning back to work," Gamaldi said.