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Colleagues say deputy who was shot stands up for underdogs

Groover recovering, will have second surgery today

POSTED: August 17, 2008 5:01 a.m.
SARA GUEVARA/The Times

Hall County sheriff's Deputy Joe Groover walks off after competing in the Man vs. Man Reactive Shooting event as part of the recent 2008 Georgia Police & Fire Games at the Sheriff's Training Facility. Groover was wounded during a nearly four-hour standoff Monday in Lula.

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On Tuesday, when the rest of the Hall County Sheriff’s Office returned to business as usual, one deputy spent the day in recovery.

While most of his colleagues were back in the field, Deputy Joe Groover spent most of Tuesday in an intensive care unit at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, recovering from more than four hours of surgery on his right arm.

"One man down is what we showed up to," said Groover’s partner, Jeremy Grindle.

The three-year veteran of the Hall County Sheriff’s Office will undergo another surgery today to continue to repair the damage caused by a bullet from Hubert Stanley Tate’s .44 Magnum revolver.

Groover was the only deputy injured during a standoff Monday morning between the sheriff’s office and Tate in Lula, suffering a serious gunshot wound to his right arm.

"He’s just got a long road ahead of him," Sgt. Kiley Sargent said.

"He’ll make a recovery, but he had some pretty serious injuries to his arm," Sargent said.

While Groover recovers, his four-man unit, which normally targets wanted felons, burglars and drug dealers, is down a man.

"Our unit is out a good one. It’s out a good person," Grindle said.

Those who work closest to Groover say that the dedicated sheriff’s deputy and SWAT Team member is one they like having on their side.

"If you ask him for something, then, you know, his basic response is ‘you know, whatever you need,’" said Sgt. Kelley Edwards, a fellow SWAT Team member.

On a daily basis, supervisors, partners and team members count on Groover for a smile, a joke and some serious crime fighting.

Sgt. Shane Presgraves, Groover’s field supervisor, said he always dials Groover’s number first when he needs anything.

"He’s always the first one to sacrifice time from his wife and his four boys to stay as late as he needs to and to accomplish, you know, the things we need to accomplish," Presgraves said. "I don’t know anybody that loves being a deputy sheriff as much as he does."

As a K-9 trainer, colleagues say there is no doubt Groover has a way with animals, but Presgraves said Groover can communicate with just about anything or anyone.

"He has a way with people," Presgraves said. "It doesn’t matter what area ... whether we’re working in Lula or Clermont or we’re working in the middle of Gainesville or ... any culture of people that we deal with, Joe has the ability to speak to them and talk to them and get responses back that we need. He’s just an amazing people person."

When he is on duty, Groover wears a smile that makes friends and co-workers know he enjoys his job, Edwards said. Groover’s dedication to his job comes from a desire to look out for the underdog and those who cannot help themselves, Presgraves said.

"In general, he likes making where he is a better place," Edwards said.

"We all see things the same way. Old people, kids and puppies, they can’t defend themselves, so somebody’s got to be here to defend them," Presgraves said. "That is the best way to sum it up, I mean, he’s the type of person that’s going to be here for the underdog."

But outside of work, it’s family for the father of four sons, friends say.

"He is a very outstanding family man," Edwards said. "... He loves his wife and his kids; he loves his friends’ kids just like his own."

Those who have visited Groover in the hospital say that despite the pain he is feeling, Groover has remained optimistic. Groover told Presgraves that he was going to be OK as long as he would still be able to throw a football to his sons.

"We was talking to him, and he’s like ‘well, I guess I’ll learn to use my left hand now,’" Grindle said. "... He’s already saying ‘hey, I got my left hand,’ you know. That’s just who he is ... He’s very optimistic about it."



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