GILES COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — In the first four months of 2023, a total of 135 law enforcement officers across the country have been shot in the line of duty, including 15 who were killed, according to the National Fraternal Order of Police.

If not for proper gear and training, that number might have increased last week after a man allegedly opened fire on four deputies during a standoff in Giles County, hitting one in the chest and another in his ballistic shield.

The deputy whose shield was shot is a long-time law enforcement officer who has worked with News 2’s Andy Cordan for years.

He said he normally might not have the shield, but on the morning of Thursday, May 18, an officer from another department gave it to him for the operation in the 1600 block of Fairview Road.

“The Lord works in mysterious ways,” the deputy told Cordan.

As for the deputy who was shot in the chest, he was briefly hospitalized, but he survived because he was wearing a tactical vest.

“The body armor did its job, but by God’s grace, I’m here today,” Deputy John Stringer said. “I think it was the Lord’s plan, the reason why I’m here.”

The 39-year-old showed News 2 the ballistic plate inside the red vest he was wearing underneath his uniform. There is now a hole in the front of the vest where Stringer said the bullet hit.

“By the grace of God, it struck the armor, because if it was a half-inch higher, I may not be here today to tell the story,” said Stringer, a married man with two sons under the age of 10.

According to the Giles County Sheriff’s Office, deputies responded to the house along Fairview Road twice last Thursday, first for a report of trespassing shortly before 1 a.m., and then for a shots fired call around 2:30 a.m.

Authorities said 64-year-old William Jones Robins Jr. barricaded himself inside his Lynnville home. Law enforcement tried to convince him to surrender, but they were unsuccessful.

Eventually, Stringer and three other deputies opened an unlocked back door at the house, which is when Robins reportedly opened fire on them with a handgun.

Even though Stringer’s bulletproof vest absorbed the lethal round, he told News 2 it felt like someone had hit him in the chest with a sledgehammer.

“Honestly, at the time I was shot, I knew I was shot, but my training kicked in. I wasn’t thinking about being shot. I was thinking about my partners,” Stringer said.

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Once Robins started shooting, the deputies returned fire, but they did not hit him, officials said.

Tennessee Highway Patrol’s tactical unit was called in to help with the standoff, which ended around 8 a.m. when Robins surrendered, according to authorities.

Stringer was reportedly the only law enforcement officer injured during the incident.

When asked about his perspective on life following the shootout, Stringer gave the following answer: “In law enforcement, we know that it’s dangerous, but I think everybody’s mindset at every shift is to go home, and so when I got home that night, of course, [I] hug my wife, hug my kids, and just blessed that I’m alive.”

Meanwhile, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation announced on Friday, May 19 that Robins had been charged with four counts of attempted murder. He is being held without bond at the Maury County Jail.

Robins has declined multiple requests for an interview.