"The Christmas day that I almost shot a man is the Christmas day I recall most vividly," the Facebook post begins.
The emotional message, written by Sgt. Tim Cotton of the Bangor, Maine, Police Department, tells the story of a past incident involving an emotionally unstable man with a knife, and how the man was fortunate enough not to have been shot.
The post appeared on the Bangor Police Department Facebook page Thursday and has already been shared nearly 300 times and generated more than 300 comments.
The Christmas day that I almost shot a man is the Christmas day I recall most vividly. You would hope that it would...Posted by Bangor Maine Police Department on Thursday, December 17, 2015
Cotton explains in detail how he responded to an incident involving a man who was suffering from self-inflicted knife wounds after attempting to get into an apartment to kill himself or his former partner.
"He wanted me to kill him," he said. "I knew that was why he continued to come at me with the bloodied blade. Whether you believe it or not; I wanted no part of that. I just wanted him to stop. But he wouldn't."
Cotton said he was lucky enough that he didn't wind up having to shoot the man. The man had lost so much blood that he couldn't make it to him.
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"Paramedics, nurses and doctors took good care of that man and he survived," Cotton wrote. "I made it home that night to have Christmas with my almost 2 year old son. He opened his Tickle Me Elmo doll a little late, but the look on his face washed away the encounter.
"I still have Elmo's plastic battery and speaker box, pulled out of that worn and tattered Elmo doll. Elmo's carcass has long since disappeared. I hit the button every once in a while and it still giggles and tells me, 'thaaaat tickles.' It drowns out the memory of sirens and yelling, praying and bleeding.
"It enhances the visions of a smiling baby boy and the warmth of a wood fire. That makes it the Christmas that I recall, most vividly."
Cotton's message prompted quite a response from Facebook users:
"Wow, Tim. I hadn't heard that story. A powerful essay. Thanks for sharing. Merry Christmas to you and the family," wrote Joy Miller Vincent.
"This is the other side of the situation, the personal internal side, that we rarely hear about," added Laurel Althea Roberts. "It isn't TV and movies, it is real life and it is scary. Thank you for your commitment and service every day. I'm so glad you didn't have to fire that shot..."
"We 'civilians' will never understand, or even comprehend, the split second decisions police officers have to make," wrote Janey L. Ross. "Life and death decisions that could either take or save a life - whether your own or a lost soul coming at you with nothing to lose. Whether people 'like' cops or not, we, too, sleep better at night knowing 'you will be here'. Merry Christmas, Cotton!"
It's been quite a week for Cotton. He was featured in The Washington Post on Wednesday, in a story with the headline, "This may be the only police department in America with a funny Facebook page."
The story focused on Cotton's penchant for posting amusing messages on the Bangor Police Department's Facebook page, which he took over in the spring of 2014. He even uses a wooden duck that he's dubbed "The Duck of Justice" as his sidekick.