APACHE JUNCTION — The Apache Junction Police Officers Association and Mesa Fraternal Order of Police Lodge have created an online fundraiser for an officer who was shot and injured while responding to a stolen vehicle call on March 16.

The fundraiser is listed on the Help A Hero fundraising website at https://helpahero.com/campaign/support-for-ajpd-officer-brian-brugman-and-family. As of Monday afternoon, the lodge had raised more than $5,000 of its $15,000 goal to help Officer Brian Brugman and his family pay for medical expenses.

The Friends of Apache Junction is also establishing a Wounded Officer fund to take donations from the community in the name of Apache Junction Police Department Officer Brugman. The organization can be found online at https://friendsofapachejunction.org/.

Brugman was one of several officers pursuing a possible suspect in a stolen truck on March 16, according to Apache Junction Police spokesman Cpl. Marshall Harshman. The officers chased the stolen vehicle earlier in the week but broke off the pursuit because of the possible danger to the community.

Officers spotted the truck again around 2 p.m. on March 16 near Apache Trail and 102nd Street in the parking lot of a business. When officers tried to stop the truck, the driver of the stolen vehicle tried to ram officers several times.

One of the officers shot at the truck, hitting one of the two people in the truck. A suspect in the truck shot back and one of the bullets struck Brugman in the neck.

According to the Help A Hero fundraising page, Brugman’s fellow officers placed him in the back of a detective’s patrol vehicle while the shooting was still going on. One detective held Brugman in the back seat as they rushed to the hospital. Brugman underwent surgery the same day and is recovering in a local hospital.

The two suspects were taken into custody. One was shot during the incident and was taken to a nearby hospital.

Brugman has been an officer with the department for the last four years and was promoted to be a motorcycle officer in January.

The Apache Junction Police Department released a statement from Brugman’s father, Joe Brugman, a few days after the incident.

“We’d like to thank everyone for the incredible outpouring of support for our son Brian. He’s making steady progress toward healing but has a long recovery ahead of him. The quick action of Brian’s fellow officers at the scene of the incident and the skill of his surgeons and medical staff at Mountain Vista Medical Center saved his life. Brian wanted to be a police officer since he was very young. Like him, the men and women who strive to protect others do so because it is their calling. This is certainly the case for the members of the Apache Junction Police Department and for our son. We are so proud of Brian’s dedication to keeping others safe and we’re forever grateful that he can continue to do so,” Joe Brugman said in the statement.

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Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa is a reporter covering the city of Casa Grande and the surrounding area, as well as Central Arizona College. She can be reached at sadams@pinalcentral.com.