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Louisville officer hurt in Old National Bank mass shooting goes home from the hospital

Officer Nickolas Wilt, who was seriously injured in April's mass shooting at Old National Bank, waves to  people as his brother Zack wheels him through the lobby of the Frazier Rehab Institute.
Chris Chandler
/
UofL Health
Louisville Police Officer Nickolas Wilt waves to people as he heads home from the hospital on Friday. He was shot in the head in April while he worked to stop a gunman at the Old National Bank in downtown Louisville. His recovery progressed enough that he could return home.

Louisville Metro Police Officer Nickolas Wilt returned home Friday after more than three months in the hospital. His departure from the Frazier Rehabilitation Institute is a milestone for his long-term recovery.

Wilt suffered a traumatic brain injury on April 10, when he and other officers arrived at the Old National Bank in downtown Louisville to stop a mass shooting.

The gunman, who was killed by police that day, fatally shot five people and injured several more, including Wilt.

Since then, Wilt has been hospitalized for treatment. For the last several weeks, he has been getting physical therapy and other aid at the Frazier Rehab Institute.

Wilt has progressed enough that he finally could go home Friday – a moment publicly celebrated by his family, his doctors and government officials like Louisville Police Chief Jackie Gwinn-Villaroel.

Wilt’s brother Zack publicly spoke at a news conference Friday morning.

He thanked the professionals at U of L Health who helped their family get to this point.

“Because of the work they did, we get to take our brother home today. Nick gets to go home today, sleep in his own bed with his own TV,” he said. “And he's been asking for a steak dinner for a couple of weeks now, and you bet we're gonna get him a steak dinner tonight.”

Dr. Darryl Kaelin, Frazier Rehab Institute’s medical director, has helped treat Wilt. He credited the progress they’ve seen so far not only to U of L Health’s team of professionals but also to Wilt’s “incredible will to survive and to recover,” as well as to the love and support of Wilt’s family, “who have been by his side literally every moment of his recovery.”

For weeks, Kaelin said Wilt has been working to regain his ability to swallow, speak and stand.

“He is making a remarkable recovery for the extent of the injury he had,” Kaelin told reporters. “His long-term prognosis is very good. And I would tell you that I think over the weeks and months to come, he is going to become more and more independent.”

The family knows it’s a long road to recovery, but Zack Wilt said his brother is putting the work in every day to get better.

“And he'll probably be embarrassed that I say this. But his little catchphrase when we wheel him out of his room, he goes, ‘Let’s boogie woogie.’ Like he's ready to go.”

The CEO of Old National Bank, Jim Ryan, joined Wilt’s family at the Frazier Rehab Institute to commemorate the officer’s return home.

Five of the bank’s employees – Joshua Barrick, Deana Eckert, Tommy Elliott, Juliana Farmer and Jim Tutt Jr. – were killed in the mass shooting.

“You have wrapped your arms around everyone who has been impacted by this event,” Ryan said of the Louisville community. “ And the profound outpouring of love, care and support has been instrumental in helping us grieve those who we've lost, while also lifting up and supporting those who are still healing.”

He teared up as he publicly thanked Wilt, as well as the officer’s family and friends.

“Officer Wilt is a hero in every sense of the word. And I'm humbled to be among those here today to celebrate this huge step forward on his path to recovery,” Ryan said. “Let's all do our part to honor him by loving one another more fully, caring for one another more completely and supporting one another to the very best of our ability.”

Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg took a moment during Friday’s news conference to remember the people who died in the attack on Old National Bank’s staff downtown.

He also paid respects to those who were killed in other mass shootings in the city.

“While we are celebrating Officer Wilt’s continued recovery today, let's also never forget,” he said. “Let's never forget the names of those who died on April 10 at Old National Bank. Let’s never forget the names of those who died on April 15 at Chickasaw Park.”

Deaji Goodman, 28, and David Huff, 17, were killed and another four people were injured in a mass shooting at Chickasaw Park in west Louisville, the same week as the bank shooting.

A spokesman for Louisville Metro Police said Friday that the investigation into the park shooting is ongoing but no arrests have been made. They continue to ask for the public’s help.

Greenberg urged Louisvillians to fight together to make gun violence “a plague of the past.”

After the news conference, more than 60 people gathered to show their support for Wilt. As Wilt passed through the hospital lobby in a wheelchair, he exchanged waves with the folks there.

Once he was outside and headed to the car, the people inside the lobby applauded him.

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Morgan is LPM's health reporter. Email Morgan at mwatkins@lpm.org.