Athens, Ala. – On the night of February 3rd, 2016, Deputy Randall McCrary went to the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Department in Florence to pick up a reserve deputy who wanted to ride along. While he was there, McCrary found out a group of officers were going to serve a paper on a man known to law enforcement. McCrary knew it was going to be a potentially dangerous call where back up was necessary, so he volunteered to go with the other officers to help. When they arrived at the residence, the officers were placed in a position where they had to kick the door in to gain entry into the home. When the front door was kicked open, shots rang out from inside. McCrary and the man exchanged fire. McCrary was shot in the chest. McCrary says that what sticks out in his mind from that night is that he shouldn’t still be here today, but God took care of him. Because of body cam footage, McCrary was later able to watch the events as they happened. He says that on the body cam as he was laying on the kitchen floor of the residence he could hear himself saying, “God, this is it. Be with me. Take care of me.” McCrary said he told fellow deputy, Tommy Brown, “Tell Tresea and the boys I love them, because I’m going home.” Of the shooting, McCrary says that it has been a learning process and a struggle requiring additional hospital stays each a week long. Due to injuries sustained from the shooting, McCrary’s spleen had to be removed. This makes him more susceptible to infections.
While McCrary was in the hospital, being on the road wasn’t the only thing he was missing. A teacher since 1994, McCrary had students at the Limestone County Career Technical Center waiting on their teacher to come back to school. McCrary is the director of the public safety program at LCTC. There he trains young people to do what he does on a nightly basis being a first responder. At the time of his shooting, McCrary had been preparing his students for an upcoming SkillsUSA district competition which was to take place two weeks later. As McCrary laid in the hospital, his students continued preparing, thanks to help from other deputies, including some from the Limestone County Sheriff’s Department as well as a fellow deputy who attended the police academy with him. In April, two and half months after McCrary was shot, his students were part of the SkillsUSA regional competition in Birmingham. During that competition, Irvin Flores, Jordan Rose, and Kandance Wilson won silver in Crime Scene Investigation. McCrary was there to witness the accomplishments of his students. McCrary said that he didn’t realize how much his students cared about him until he went through the shooting. McCrary said that although the students could not see him during his recovery at the hospital, they came to see him as soon as he was back home. McCrary said that during his recovery, he also received letters, cards, and patches from fellow officers across the country and the world. From that experience, McCrary learned how strong the law enforcement community really was.
It was in 2004 when McCrary decided that he wanted to find a way to be part of the law enforcement community after his son, Adam, was hit by a car which caused traumatic brain injury. Following the accident, McCrary and his wife, Tresea, spent three months in a hospital in Atlanta as their son recovered. While the McCrary family was in Atlanta, they witnessed the generosity of the Limestone County community. He said that so many from the community took care of the everyday tasks while they were gone. It was then that McCrary decided that he wanted to do something to give back to the community. By 2006, McCrary joined the reserve program at the Limestone County Sheriff’s Department. McCrary attended the reserve police academy which allows cadets to work their regular jobs during the week and attend the academy on the weekends for a year to gain their APOST certification. Four years later, in 2011, McCrary became employed by the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Department as a deputy.
Since 2014, the Limestone County Career Technical Center has been offering the public safety program and McCrary says that his being able to be hands on as a deputy helps him as he teaches students to be law enforcement officers themselves. He says that when he arrives at school the students like to inquire as to what happened while on duty the night before. Thanks to Sheriff Rick Singleton, McCrary says that students even are allowed to do ride alongs with limitations. From this, students are able to see firsthand what being a law enforcement officer is about.
McCrary says that he loves both jobs and loves making a difference at both the school and the sheriff’s department. As for the public safety program at the Tech Center, McCrary says that students who are interested in being part of the program need to be disciplined and be a good citizen who is trustworthy. McCrary says that at the Tech Center there are amazing opportunities for young people. Over his 24 years, McCrary says that he has seen the Tech Center center grow with the good work of fellow instructors and the leadership of Limestone County School Superintendent Tom Sisk.
Lately, along with teaching and being a deputy, McCrary and his son, Adam, have become cattlemen. They currently have cattle in Anderson in Lauderdale County and in Limestone County as well. On the farms, they raise black angus and polled hereford angus cross. The cattle business began as an effort to find his son, Adam, a career due to his limitations from his accident back in 2004. Appropriately, the farm is named, “Second Chance Farm”, because McCrary says that he and his son have both received a second chance at life.