More than a year after Park Forest Police Officer Tim Jones was shot in the head and critically injured while responding to a suburban break-in, he reached a major milestone on Friday.
Jones left Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital after seven months of intense rehab, surrounded by love and support.
Greeted by a line of smiling, applauding Park Forest Police brethren in dress blues and accompanied by his father, Ofc. Jones received an emotional welcome as he enters the next phase of his road to recovery.
"There's no way we could ever thank Marianjoy and the staff for all that they've done," Jones' father, Country Club Hills Police Chief William Jones, said. "They took us in like we were family, and they made sure that we didn't leave until this day, until it was time."
Though he remains in a wheelchair and unable to speak, Ofc. Jones emerged triumphant, grinning as his peers and family cheered him on.
"He's defied odds every step of the way," Deputy Chief Christopher Mannino said, "and we've been with him every step of the way. When he wants to come back to the police department, his locker is there waiting for him."
Jones was shot March 19 around 5:40 a.m. in the 300 block of Neola Street while investigating a break-in and a stolen vehicle, according to police.
Officers discovered there was a person inside the vacant residence and a perimeter was set up around the building, authorities said. The suspect tried to leave the house through a window and as officers attempted to detain him, he produced a handgun and began firing, police say. Jones was shot in the head.
At the time, doctors told William his son may not live past the next 24 hours.
“Their prognosis immediately was pretty bleak and grim, but we thanked the doctors we told them doctors, do all you can and we are going to rely on God to do what he does," William Jones said last year.
Doctors said Friday that Ofc. Jones' outpatient rehab will be nothing short of rigorous. They said he is mentally sharp and ready for the next challenge.
He'll be watching the NBA finals and staying "Tim Strong."