BRENTWOOD, Tenn. (WKRN) — Twenty years ago, gunfire erupted in the middle of the busy intersection of Old Hickory Boulevard and Franklin Road in Brentwood.

The suspect drove from California to Middle Tennessee robbing banks along the way, which included a failed attempt in Nashville. During the chaos that unfolded two Brentwood officers were shot including Stephanie (Bellis) Warner.

“I find myself, it seems like, at that intersection almost every day and oddly enough I’m usually stopped at a red light. And for a brief second, I relive that. I see the action. I see the people. I feel the feeling and it’s odd because it’s been 20 years,” Warner said.

It was May 6th, 2002 at 1 in the afternoon.

“Our lives, as we knew them, had changed right then,” Warner recalled.

And the innocence of Brentwood was robbed along with the Bank of America branch on Franklin Road by Gary Thomas Brown. Warner was the first to respond.

“As I’m approaching it, my window is blown out,” remembered Warner. “As I’m leaning up, there are bullets going this way and this way all around me.”

A scenario no one at the Brentwood Police Department had ever experienced in real life, at least.

“I don’t know if I was being set up for the future, at some point in my life, I had dreamt if something happened to me in my car I just dive out.”

Which is exactly what Stephanie did.

“I landed on the ground, I jump up and get in front of the police car. Thank goodness it was still in drive,” a detail Warner had also dreamt of.

Alex Denis: “How do you explain that?”

Stephanie Warner: “I 100% think it’s divine intervention.”

Protection from a higher power blanketing this busy intersection, Warner said, as her car continued to roll.

“He was shooting me with an AR-15. He was a prison sniper in San Jose, so he was a good shot.”

A bullet pierced her forearm. Her firing hand was compromised.

“I jammed my weapon,” Warner said. “I did a quick reload.”

By this point, fellow officers swarmed the scene.

“There were people jumping out of their vehicles and running across the street.”

Warner stores most of her memories in a dusty box pulling out metal ticket books riddled with bullet holes.

“That would have gone in my body,” she said, combing through bullets retrieved from the scene.

Warner has no choice but to carry others more closely. The shooter’s bullet is still lodged in her arm.
Pieces of shrapnel pepper her body. None of that seems to upset her as she watches back the moments her life could have ended.

“I see this young fortunate fighter, survivor… this is the moment I’m going to tear up,” Warner said.

She’s overwhelmed with gratitude for her brothers in blue who came to her rescue and for her life well lived despite that day.

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“They are heroes. They need to be known as heroes,” Warner said. “You fast forward to 20 years. I’ve had an awesome marriage. I’ve had three amazing children and the thought of not being able to experience that is just… wow, I can’t imagine not having this awesome life.”