The wounded police officer who tackled President Reagan's suspected assailant was described by another officer as 'one of the few guys who would work for you if you needed a day off.'
Thomas K. Delahanty, 45, a 17-year veteran of the D.C. police force serving on the K-9 Corps would have missed the attack on the president if his dog, Kirk, hadn't been sick with heartworms, a serious canine disorder.
Because of the animal's illness, the officer was available for other duty, and so was with the president at the Washington Hilton.
On Tuesday, Delahanty told two of Reagan's children, Maureen and Michael, from his hospital bed, 'Tell the president I did everything I could.'
Delahanty was listed in fair condition at the Washington Hospital Center, where he was removed from the intensive care ward. There were no plans to operate to remove a bullet lodged in the officer's neck.
Mayor Marion Barry talked with Delahanty, and his wife, Jane, and said the officer told him 'he wished he could have done more.'
'How much more could you do?' Barry said.
Barry paid a call on Delahanty Tuesday, and described him and injured Secret Service agent Tim McCarthy as 'heroes.'
Barry said Delahanty helped in apprehending the suspect, John Hinckley Jr. Police spokesman Gary Hankins today confirmed Delahanty helped tackle the suspect as the shooting occurred.
Delahanty usually works with Officer Winston Smith.
'I couldn't believe it,' Smith said. 'I saw his (Delahanty's) picture and I did not know if he was ducking or what. There was no doubt in my mind that it was my partner.'
The officer's work won him more than 30 commendations from citizens and superiors.
Delahanty worked the downtown area. A Navy veteran, he was born in Pittsburgh and joined the police force in September 1963. He is well-liked by his fellow officers and described as 'an exemplary officer' by superiors.
Hankins said calls were coming in from all over the world to the metropolitan force. Hankins said publications in Australia and Europe wanted to know the condition of the officer who helped save the president.
'It makes you feel good,' Hankins said today.