‘A sigh of relief.’ Kentucky deputy recovering, attempted murder charge added to suspect

Mark Dungan
Mark Dungan Leslie County Detention Center

A new charge of attempted murder of a police officer has been filed against a Science Hill man accused of shooting a McCreary County Sheriff’s deputy.

Mark Dungan, previously charged with wanton endangerment, criminal mischief, resisting arrest and possession of a handgun by a convicted felon, appeared in court for the first time Thursday. He is accused of shooting deputy Dustin T. Watkins, who was responding to a call about a domestic dispute Tuesday night.

Dungan, 48, pleaded not guilty Thursday; he remained in the Leslie County Detention Center on a $500,000 bond, according to WKYT’s Phil Pendleton.

Watkins was flown to the University of Tennessee Medical Center after the shooting and was initially listed in critical condition. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said Thursday that Watkins was stable and sat up for the first time Wednesday night.

According to an arrest citation, Watkins was shot in a bulletproof vest and again “in the lower abdominal region.”

McConnell said he’s “breathing a sigh of relief” because of the positive news on Watkins’ condition.

“With (McCreary County) Sheriff Randy Waters, I’d like to extend sincere thanks to the doctors, nurses and hospital staff who are caring for this brave Kentuckian,” McConnell said.

According to WYMT, Watkins started as a full-time McCreary County deputy on July 1. The 28-year-old Watkins spent most of his six months with the sheriff’s office as a volunteer, WYMT reported.

The Commonwealth-Journal said Waters could not comment on the investigation of the shooting, but he also thanked those who are helping Watkins recover.

“The main thing is we thank the Lord for all the first responders that came together in getting him to UT,” Waters said.