Community helps renovate home for police officer injured in Walmart shooting

Community helps renovate home for police officer injured in Walmart shooting
Community helps renovate home for police officer injured in Walmart shooting (Source: WMC Action News 5)

PALESTINE, Ark. (WMC) - As a Forrest City police officer who was injured in last month’s shooting at Walmart recovers, his community is helping him and his family by renovating their dream home.

Nearly one month has passed since investigators say Bobby Gibbs opened fire inside the Forrest City Walmart, injuring two officers.

One of those officers, Detective Eugene Watlington of the Forrest City Police Department, remains in rehab at a Memphis hospital .

"He's getting better each day, get a little stronger," said Glenda Gore, Watlington's sister-in-law.

As he journeys down the road to recovery, he's getting plenty of support back home with a special project he had been working on.

"Eugene, and his wife had bought this house with plans of renovating it and making it their family home," said Justin Sharp, a Forrest City fire prevention officer.

While the house looks good on the outside, the inside tells a different story.

Community helps renovate home for police officer injured in Walmart shooting
Community helps renovate home for police officer injured in Walmart shooting (Source: WMC Action News 5)

"It was a pretty extensive project," said Sharp.

The house needs new wiring, new flooring and new sheet rock.

It's not something that, given the circumstances, Watlington and his family would be able to accomplish on their own.

But it's a challenge that members of the Forrest City Fire Department and community members are willing to accept.

"(Eugene is) the kind of person that would give you the shirt off his back," said Sharp. "People know that. That's why everyone's stepping in to do what we can to make his dream here a reality."

The house still needs a lot of work and right now, it's unclear how much of that work volunteers will be able to get done.

But they say they're going to do as much as they can.

Gore says all the support means a lot.

"A lot of people don't think about the danger of running into danger when you have other people running away," said Gore. "He stepped up to the call."

Anyone wishing to donate to the project can help in three ways:

You can purchase an item from an Amazon Wish List to have the item(s) shipped directly to the project.

You can mail a donation to "A Home for Our Hero: Eugene Watlington," P.O. Box 176, Forrest City, AR 72336.

You can also make a deposit into the “A Home for Our Hero: Eugene Watlington” bank account at any First National Bank of Eastern Arkansas.

For more information contact Glenda Gore at 501-499-2231.

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