BRADLEY, Ill. (WLS) -- The Bradley police officer who was critically injured in a deadly shooting nearly a year ago is finally going home.
Hundreds of well-wishers lined the streets in Bradley to welcome Officer Tyler Bailey home Wednesday afternoon. He, along with his family, was given a police escort for the 60-mile journey down from Chicago's Shirley Ryan AbilityLab.
"Today is the day that everybody's been waiting for, so we're all really excited," family friend Jessica Kinnarsley said.
"It's just astounding, it being Thanksgiving and him coming home," well-wisher Linda Williams said. "It's just the best Thanksgiving ever, I would say."
It's been a long road for Officer Bailey. It's been nearly a year since he was first hospitalized and then in rehab after being critically wounded in a shooting on December 29, 2021, at the local Comfort Inn.
He and his partner, 49-year-old Sgt. Marlene Rittmanic, were responding to a noise complaint at the motel when they were both shot. She did not make it. So while they celebrate today, it is a police department still very much in mourning.
"Not a day goes by without someone mentioning her or a case coming up that she worked on prior to, so it's a struggle every day," Bradley Police Chief Donald Barber said. "He's a miracle. God's definitely looking over him. He's a very strong person. If anybody can make it, he can."
Bailey's first stop was the Bradley Police Department, where a private celebration with his fellow officers and friends took place. Chicago's Fraternal Order of Police stepped up to provide the food, along with some much needed moral support from someone who's also been there: CPD Officer Carlos Yañez, who was reportedly part of the convoy that led Bailey home.
"He's been talking to Tyler off and on for the last year so, just kind of sharing their ups and downs 'cause they really are very few people in this state who understand what they've dealt with," said John Catanzara Jr., Fraternal Order of Police.
What the future holds for Officer Bailey now that he's been released from rehab is unclear, but for his family and friends, all that matters is he's home.