A Life Changing Decision

Fresno, CA, USA Junus Perry still has not touched the uniform he wore that day. It's sitting in a pile in his garage, the same place he left it the day of the shooting. In his first interview, Officer Perry talks about the day that's changed his life forever.

Roosevelt High School ... April 16th 2008 ... The school day would end with police tape strung around the campus. One student dead and one officer seriously hurt.

"He repeatedly yelled at the officer go ahead and kill me."

Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer explained what happened and why veteran Officer Junus Perry felt forced to fire.

"The suspect continued to advance toward Officer Perry while holding a bat in this fashion while standing over Officer Perry and was yelling at him profanities at Officer Perry saying what are you going to do now."

Investigators say the attack began when Sophomore Jesse Carrizales snuck up behind Perry and delivered a blow to the head with this modified bat.

Perry fell backward then reached for the gun on his hip, but the clip fell out.

Then he grabbed a second gun from an ankle holster and fired one shot. It hit and killed Carrizales.

"You felt, I guess, like you were in no other position."

"I was in no other position."

Perry agreed to talk to Action News at his attorney's office in Fresno. Close to seven months later, he still is not able to talk specifics about the shooting.

Perry said, "There are certain things that happen to a person when they go through this type of trauma. There are physiological aspects of it that they have no control of that are constantly being repetitively being replayed in their mind. And you have to learn to make peace with that. You have to learn to accept that and learn to live with it. It's been very tough."

He seeks peace through his faith and asks for everyone involved that day feel comforted.

"There's been a lot of prayer. We've prayed for both the child's family, we've also prayed for the student's at the school who witnessed the incident at the school."

Days and weeks after the shooting Junus Perry found solace alone, withdrawn from the world. He still reads self help books for hours on end, working to heal the internal wounds. A two inch gash on his head has left his train of thought sometimes broken mid sentence. A spinal cord injury and nerve damage have left him weak.

"I'm lucky to be alive. I'm lucky to be alive and my goal is to make a difference while I'm here."

Officer Perry chose to come to Roosevelt four years ago. He wanted to reach kids while they were still impressionable. So instead of taking the test to become a sergeant, he took this assignment to help change lives.

Perry felt at home at Roosevelt, comfortable with students and staff. For now, he stays away from the school, and has even distanced himself from fellow officers. Those ties bring up emotions his psychologist says he doesn't need to feel right now.

"I spend a lot of time with people who are not in law enforcement and that's by design right now because I need time with me. I need time with my family. We need to heal the wounds that have taken place within our household."

Thursday Perry was honored with the Van Meter Award for his strength and courage under difficult circumstances.

For Perry, moving on means that he can recognize and accept what's happened without letting it define him.

"This incident will be a part of my life for the rest of my life. I will be old and gray and this incident will still be a part of my life."

He's hoping to return to work early next year, most likely in a light duty capacity. He says since the shooting he's received dozens of letters of support from students and staff at Roosevelt High. And in part two of this story Friday on Action News at 6:00 p.m. I tell you why Junus Perry is taking on Fresno Unified in the hopes of preventing this type of incident from happening again.


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