Shooting still haunts trooper’s wife |

Shooting still haunts trooper’s wife

Dale Shrull
Vail, CO Colorado
Kara K. Pearson/Post IndependentAndrea Hartmann performs acupuncture on Nicole Koch, who says the treatments have helped her cope with the shooting of her husband, Brian, a Colorado state trooper, in October.

RIFLE ” It’s the middle of the night and there’s a knock on the door. Then tapping on the window. Nicole Koch begins to cry, cloaking her face in her hands.

She knows it’s bad news. She won’t answer the door because she knows her husband is dead.

This is only a dream that Nicole has occasionally. It’s the dream, or rather a nightmare, of a cop’s wife. Sometime shortly after Oct. 24 turned over to Oct. 25, that dream almost became a reality.

Nicole’s husband Brian Koch was shot around 11:25 p.m., on Oct. 24, during a traffic stop south of Silt. When a friend knocked on the door of the Kochs’ home rousing Nicole from sleep it was no dream. It was a nightmare.

“I just said, ‘Tell me right now, is he dead?'” Nicole says remembering the night no wife of a cop wants to live.

“He said, ‘He’s shot in the arm,’ and I said, ‘OK, I can handle that,'” she said.

As seemingly mundane as that wound sounds, the situation was much more dire. The bullet hit a major artery and Brian could have died. It left his left arm mangled.

From that terrifying night to now, it’s been an ongoing ordeal for the Koch family.

There’s been therapy for Nicole and 9-year-old daughter Sierra. Nicole discovered acupuncture. It helps her relax. It helps life slow down a little.

Acupuncture must work, because she hates needles but keeps going back.

“Weeks after the shooting we were all having nightmares. I didn’t think it would bother me that much ” but it did,” Nicole says.

When a cop gets shot, sometimes what happens to the wife is forgotten. She’s the support system. As Brian continues to heal, Nicole has had her own tough times.

“Sometimes I can’t get my breath, it feels like I’m always hyperventilating,” Nicole says. “It feels like a dream.”

She has a lot on her plate ” helping Brian recover, helping Sierra adjust and managing a new business. Nicole, 36, and Brian, 39, have been married for 10 years. She always knew the knock on the door in the middle of the night could happen.

“We’ve talked about it before. I know when he leaves every night that the worse can happen,” she says.

Nicole is cheerful and allows her smiling personality to emerge from the clouds as much as possible. But there are days. Like the one shortly after the shooting.

“I fell apart right in the grocery store because I didn’t know if I should make chicken or steak,” Nicole says.

Another more recent time, Nicole admits that she lost it again. “I have my moments. I cried for two days and got it out of my system, then I’m OK,” she says.

Nicole also has found help from a person who knows firsthand what she’s going through. She talks to a wife on the Front Range whose husband also was shot.

Back to normal is something Nicole can’t really get into focus right now. “Maybe in a year,” she says.

There’s also been a reassessment of priorities.

“In the end, it’s brought us closer together as a family,” she says. “Brian loves his job, he lives for his job. But now, he’s refocused on family.”

Brian is back to work on light duty. His rehabilitation continues, and more surgeries could be on the way. At some ceremonies the Kochs have attended, Nicole has also been given a medal.

The shooting had another effect on Brian. It’s the perfect example of the balance of good and evil.

After Brian was shot, Nicole says the community came knocking. They brought food and offered help of all kinds. They sent cards and messages.

“I think Brian was losing faith in society,” Nicole says. “Every day he goes out and tries to make it safer. He tries to get people to slow down but they say horrible things to him.”

The Colorado State Patrol trooper is often viewed as the bad guy. The person with the ticket book.

“He’d tell me about how they would cuss at him, wad up their tickets and throw it back at him. He’s an honorable man. That’s why he loves his job,” she says.

Support Local Journalism