NORTON, Va. (WJHL) — The dispatch call of a shoplifter turned into a shoot-out with police in Norton, Virginia in May of 2021. A year later, Chief James Lane, who assisted with the call and was shot several times, continues to heal.

His dedication to the town and his fellow officers makes him this week’s Community Hero.

Lane’s decision to wear a vest turned out to be a lifesaver.

“We never know when something could happen,” Lane said. “And, I think about it like with vehicle insurance. You have it, you pray you never need it, but if you do, it’s great to know. It’s the same with these vests.”

But to Chief Lane, it wasn’t an option. He leads by example.

“In our department, it’s mandatory that the officers wear the vests, and I think I’m an example along with many others that the body armor does save lives,” he said.

After being shot in the line of duty and multiple surgeries, Lane is on the mend and getting stronger every day. But, he admits the shooting was life-changing for him and his family.

“This whole situation, this whole year has changed everything,” he says. “We are as positive as we can be. But, there definitely have been things as you can imagine with the hospital stays, with therapy, problems with mobility that has completely changed our lives.”

But it hasn’t changed his resolve. He knows there are people who depend on him, and it inspires him every morning he wakes up.

“It keeps me going,” he said. “It’s what I need to be able to walk better. To set that (goal), that I’m going to come back and be very supportive and I’m going to be a part of the community up and running, as you’d say. That’s the reason I can’t wait to get back to work.”

His reason for fighting every day during physical therapy? To show the people who prayed for and supported him, and that faith can move mountains.

“Your prayers and your thoughts make a difference. Hold on, never quit fighting. Failure is not an option,” he said. “You’ve got to hang in there. And the ones that does the support, never underestimate what your thoughts and prayers does to help someone when they are down.”