CHARLESTON, MO (KFVS) - A Missouri State Trooper says he's lucky to be alive after a gun battle on the interstate little more than three weeks ago.
In an instant on March 10, a traffic stop turned into a gunfight.
As he tells his story, Corporal Shane Stewart says he's grateful for another chance to live. He easily recalls the event, from the flash of the suspect's gun, to his determination to stay alive.
"I remember the muzzle flash," said Corporal Stewart. "It was very vivid. I can't believe I'm healing this quick."
Corporal Stewart recalls he was just about to end his shift when fellow Trooper David Crank called for help with a stop. Trooper Crank had pulled over an SUV near mile marker 56 in the north bound lane.
"He knew something wasn't right," said Corporal Stewart. "He couldn't get the passengers to show their identification. He could smell marijuana coming from the vehicle."
Corporal Stewart says he approached on the driver's side of the SUV, with one passenger out of the car he remember hearing Trooper Crank yelling from the other side.
"I could hear Crank asking him to show his hands. I could see he was trying to hide something but I didn't know what it was," said Corporal Stewart. "I also told him to show his hands. I opened the driver's side door, he made a motion and that's when he shot me."
Corporal Stewart says the shot knocked him towards the interstate.
"It felt like a needle," said Corporal Stewart.
Corporal Stewart says he was able to return fire. He says within two seconds after the suspect fired, Trooper Crank fired as well.
It wasn't long after the shooting stopped, Corporal Stewart says a third trooper arrived, Sgt. Rick Sanders.
"Sgt. Sanders was trying to take care of my wound," said Corporal Stewart pointing to the scar just below his neck. "I can't imagine being in their shoes when you see your best friend shot and you have to be the one to return fire."
A bullet fatally struck Michael Thomas, another struck Maurice Ely. Stewart remembers willing himself to stay upright, and stay alive. He had been shot in the upper chest area. He says he moved towards Trooper Crank's car for cover.
He says he could feel the good Lord, and his late wife watching over him.
"God was watching over me, no doubt about it," said Corporal Stewart. "My wife was watching over me. I was just thinking about my kids. I was thinking it's not my time I can't check out yet I have to raise my kids."
Amazingly Corporal Stewart says he never lost consciousness.
"I was holding someone's hand and it was more comfort for me. I was trying to gage my strength and I could tell I still had good strength in my hands. I was trying to control my heart rate and not panic. As a trooper, we are trained to go home," said Corporal Stewart.
Corporal Stewart says his greatest relief was waking up after surgery, and laying eyes on his children. Incredibly, next week he'll return to duty.
"I'm ready," said Corporal Stewart. "My kids love me being a trooper. I love being a trooper. I can't imagine having another job and I don't want another job."
Corporal Stewart says he remembers even as he arrived at the hospital, troopers were showing up from across the state to offer support. He says he can't thank them enough. He also wants to thank the people of Charleston for all their support and kindness.
All three suspects face murder charges. They remain behind bars.