NORTON, Va. (WJHL)- It’s been just over a year since something extremely unexpected occurred in the City of Norton. The city’s police chief was shot in the line of duty on May 7, 2021.

“Because of the investigation, I was made aware that there was rounds taken in the vest, I’m not aware of the number,” Lane said. “I knew that made a difference, with God’s mercy I was spared.”

Chief Lane’s bulletproof vest is also to thank for helping him survive the ordeal.

“I was in my office working and heard over the radio there was a shoplifter that had ran from Walmart that’s located in the city of Norton,” Lane recalled. “I knew that one of the officers had someone arrested so that just left one officer by himself; therefore, I responded as well to assist in trying to locate the individual and during that time encountered the suspect and was shot.”

Along with the rounds in the vest, Lane took bullets to both arms, his pelvis and several rounds in the vest.

“I originally was shot through the windshield,” he said. “And then I was able to exit my vehicle but realized that I was injured and fell to the ground. And so we exchanged gunfire throughout the time. I’ve had a total of three surgeries because of the injuries, and it’s been rough. I’m just so thankful that I am alive.”

Lane spent several weeks in recovery after the shooting. He was first taken to the Johnson City Medical Center and then transferred to Norton Community Hospital for rehabilitation.

“Your prayers and your thoughts does make a difference. Hold on, never quit fighting, that failure is not an option,” Lane said of the support he’s received. “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.”

Chief Lane is back at work but still has a long road to recovery ahead, with walking unassisted as his top goal.

“When you pull up on scene and the first thing you see is your co-worker, your chief, laying on the ground bleeding, it’s a difficult thing to process,” said Jason McConnell, the officer working with Lane the day he was shot. “But then when you see the suspect with a gun in his hand, you know that you have to stop that threat before you can even attend to your fallen officer.”

McConnell is now the leader of the Norton Sheriff’s Department, and he says his relationship with Lane and that incident helped mold him.

“Seeing your own officer, injured, hurt, bleeding is something I don’t want anybody else to have to face,” McConnell said.

James Buckland, the man accused of shooting Chief Lane, faces 17 charges, including attempted murder.

A review hearing for his case is set for July 8.