WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE)- The Wichita Wind Surge gave a Wichita Police officer who was shot in the line of duty in 2021 the opportunity to throw the first pitch for the team's home opener.

Kyle Mellard was shot multiple times in the line of duty back in June of 2021.

"Me and my partners were sitting at the station finishing up paperwork about to go home for the night," said Mellard.

That night would take a different turn when Wichita Police officers were called to check the welfare of two people at a home in the 500 block of West Carlyle. Officers would learn that a woman had gotten into an argument with her boyfriend that ended with a shootout when police tried to confront him.

"We heard the officer come over the radio screen that shots were fired and asked for help," said Mellard. "So we got out jumped in the car and got there as quickly as we could."

Mellard told KAKE News the first thing he did when he got to the scene was check on his fellow officers, one of them being his sister.

"Made sure she was OK," said Mellard.

Wichita Police said a total of 18 gunshots were fired from the suspect, 28-year-old Tyler Hodge's rifle. Some of those shots hit Mellard when he and Hodge exchanged gunfire.

"I heard the first gunshot and got hit in my leg," said Mellard. "I ended up getting shot in my right leg and broke both bones in my right leg which made me fall and as I was falling I got shot in the mouth."

At the time, former Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay told KAKE News Mellard was in critical but stable condition and that it would be a long time before he recovered.

"I knew I was in trouble," said Mellard. "But I was just thinking of what I needed to do to help myself survive."

Mellard overcame the odds, and after months of physical therapy was able to throw the first pitch for the Wind Surge's game Friday night.

"Seeing him walking and seeing him good and seeing him happy, it's amazing," said Esther Deortiz, a friend of Mellard's.

She and a large group of Wichita police officers, Mellard's friends and family showed up to support him and celebrate the moment. He said he was thankful for the community and his family's support but that he still had a long way to go before he could return to work.

"Now it's just physical therapy, three times a week," said Mellard. "Trying to get my muscle in my leg back to be able to, you know the main goal is to return to work as soon as possible."