WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Richard Burdick is a Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office veteran. He's been with PBSO for 25 years and is a watch commander with a renewed appreciation for his good fortune.
He didn't make it home on June 4 to celebrate his 51st birthday -- he almost didn't make it home at all.
"I tried to get him to stay home so I could take him out to dinner," his wife Robyn said as she recalled the start of that day.
Burdick tried to squeeze in that birthday dinner but got detoured to a deadly case of domestic violence.
Investigators say Armando Gonzalez Felipe shot and killed his girlfriend, Delgis Quintana . Deputies chased the suspect and say a shootout erupted.
"I did feel the round hit my leg but I finished what I was trained to do," Burdick said.
Burdick and other deputies returned fire, killing the suspect.
"There is nobody that goes out," Burdick told me, "wanting to hurt anybody when they leave the house."
Aftershocks travel fast. They hit Robyn as she stood in a grocery store aisle buying a birthday cake.
"My phone rings and it is him, Robyn said. "He says, 'Where are you?' I say, 'I am at Publix. Is everything okay?' He says, 'I've been shot but I am going to be fine."
Robyn rushed to Wellington Regional Medical Center. So did Burdick's adult son, Ryan. Doctors pulled a bullet from Burdick's left thigh. He is recovering quickly but the bigger shock came one weeklater when Burdick took a look at his work gear.
"We found a second round in the handcuff case (on his utility belt.)," he said.
That bullet could have proved fatal had it trajectory been only an inch or two different because Burdick's vest did not cover that area of his body.
"It would have struck me in the pelvic area," he said. "It would have been a devastating wound."
Robyn said faith helps her cope with such stark possibilities.
Indeed, faith and mutual support bind the couple's marriage of seven years. They also share a compassion for the victim in the domestic violence case that Burdick came upon.
"One thing they did mention was she had a 12 year old daughter and (I am) thinking of the future and what her life is going to be like," Robyn said.
There is empathy too for fellow PBSO lawmen under the microscope after a recent spate of deputy involved shootings and what Burdick calls painful second guessing.
"Officer involved shootings have ruined careers, not just the shooting but the psychological effect of it," he said.
Burdick is not new to harms way. In 1988 he felt its harsh sting during a pursuit in Belle Glade.
"(The suspect) fired a shot through the windshield and the round fragmented in my face and shoulder," he said.
The shooter was caught, jailed and then later released from prison. Burdick soldiers on. Citizen safety, he says, is worth the risk.
"I enjoy the job. I enjoy the people," Burdick said, "and the work we do, the citizens. Contrary to what people believe there are a lot of good people out there."
Robyn said she never tried to talk him out of his career. She isn't about to start now.
"He has the mentality that he is concerned for others," she said. "He wants to see the world a better place. He wants to keep bad from happening to good people and I can't take him away from that."
And so Richard and Robyn Burdick persevere, together on the front lines.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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