More than a month after being injured in a Sterling shooting, Dept. Camron Gentry of the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office left Reston Hospital Center at 2 p.m. on Saturday.
As Dept. Gentry and his parents, Tony and Angelina Gentry, neared their car in the hospital’s north parking lot, dozens of community members and fellow law enforcement officers met them with a standing ovation, several holding signs with encouraging statements, such as “Gentry Strong.”
“We’re very excited about it. He’s got a long road to recovery, but we’re so excited that he’s coming along as well as he is,” Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman (R) told the Times-Mirror. “It was a very, very serious injury that he sustained.”
Dept. Gentry and two security guards were injured during the shooting, which took place at the Walmart in Dulles Crossing Plaza during the evening of Jan. 2. The suspected shooter, 33-year-old Sterling resident Steven E. Thodos, was charged with 11 felonies, including two counts each of attempted first degree murder and aggravated malicious wounding.
A few days after the shooting, the Fraternal Order of Police Loudoun-Dulles Lodge 69 created a GoFundMe online fundraiser that reached $100,000 after only three days of activity. As of Saturday, the campaign has accrued a total of $115,109 to support Dept. Gentry’s recovery efforts, which have so far included reconstructive surgery of his tibia and fibula as well as “a very extensive plastic surgery,” according to the GoFundMe page.
“We should all consider ourselves very blessed,” said Tim Ortwein, a Lodge 69 trustee. “We don’t have this type of incident happen very often, and so the support from the community has just been amazing on this.”
Several notable public figures were in attendance Saturday to show their support for the injured deputy, including Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Phyllis Randall (D), as well as fellow supervisors Kristen Umstattd (D-Leesburg) and Mike Turner (D-Ashburn).
“Thank God he’s coming home,” Randall said. “There’s a whole county who have been thinking about him, praying for him and his family, supporting him, and we will continue to support him in any way possible. … [We] thank him and every law enforcement officer and first responder for their service.”
Per Chapman, the Board of Supervisors is one of several local organizations and elected bodies to have shown consistent support for Dept. Gentry during his recovery, along with the Fairfax County Police Department, Virginia State Police, Loudoun County Fire and Rescue, Fraternal Order of Police and the Loudoun First Responders Foundation.
“[There are] so many people to thank, and when you look around and see all these people, it just shows you the community support that we have and how much our community appreciates the job of Loudoun County Sheriff’s deputies,” the sheriff said.
As for Dept. Gentry’s return to the force, Chapman said it is too early to say when that will be, but he and the rest of the sheriff’s office “are very hopeful that he is able to come back.”
“I’m sure that he would like to come back. He definitely loves the job and we love having him on the job, so I sure hope that that’s the way it works out, but we have a long way to go to make that determination,” Chapman said.
After leaving the lobby where his supporters had congregated, Dept. Gentry was helped into the family car before he and his parents — with a robust police and fire-and-rescue escort — drove off the hospital grounds onto Fairfax County Parkway, the first branch of the young deputy’s long-awaited journey home.