An Orange County deputy sheriff who was shot in the chest twice last week is listed in stable condition and is recovering in a private room at Christus St. Elizabeth Hospital in Beaumont, according to Det. Sgt. Chad Hogan of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.

“Deputy Ashworth is still in Christus St. Elizabeth Hospital and doctors are pleased with his progress. He is expected to be released in the next few days,” Hogan wrote.

Monday Sheriff Keith Merritt updated Orange County Commissioners’ Court on 45 year old Deputy Fred Ashworth’s condition. “You know last Thursday an incident happened where he took two shots to the chest with a 40 caliber.” The sheriff said he’s doing remarkably well. He said the surgeons called them two miracle bullets. “That caliber in the chest area that actually goes through like that and not hit a major organ or artery or anything like that is nothing shy of a miracle,” said Merritt. “He’s ready to come back to work. Obviously it’s going to be awhile, but no complications, no nothing, so we’re very fortunate. You take a bad incident and really some good comes out of it.”

Deputy Rod Carroll of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office is conducting the investigation on the Jan. 26 Thursday morning shooting of Ashworth. He was shot at the Minnie Rogers Juvenile Justice Center on Highway 69 in Beaumont at the sally port of the facility by a juvenile suspect he was transporting from Orange County.

Carroll said he couldn’t release all the information since the incident is still under investigation, but preliminary results show Ashworth took off his firearm to enter a secure area. The alleged suspect was secured in the back seat of the patrol vehicle and somehow managed to reach the firearm in the front portion of the vehicle.

Carroll added he can’t say yet why Ashworth wasn’t wearing his protective vest or how the suspect managed to free himself from his handcuffs.

A news release from the JCSO the day after the shooting read:

Deputies from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and Beaumont PD immediately responded. Upon the arrival, the deputy was barricaded in the sally port with the suspect. The suspect dropped the weapon just prior to officers making contact with him at the sally port. The suspect was taken into custody without further incident.

Tactical paramedics with the JCSO and Beaumont EMS treated the officer on-scene. The officer was transported to Christus St. Elizabeth Hospital.

The deputy was shot twice in the upper torso with his .40 caliber service weapon.

The investigation is continuing on how the shooting occurred.

Ashworth has 20 years of experience and is currently assigned to the prisoner transport division.

The suspect taken into custody is a 16-year-old male.

He was in custody for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and evading arrest/ detention. The suspect was transported back to Minnie Rogers Juvenile Justice Center following a court hearing in Orange County.

The Minnie Rogers Juvenile Justice Center houses juvenile arrestees for Orange County under a contract. He has been charged with attempted capital murder of a peace officer.