A Knoxville police officer who survived a brutal attack by a stranger is opening up about the experience.
According to police, Officer B.K. Hardin was directing traffic in Fort Sanders on Nov. 17, 2018, after a Tennessee football game when an attacker hit him with a hammer or tire iron.
The impact fractured his skull.
"I want to say thank you. Community outreach, prayers, have just been overwhelming for myself and family," Hardin said as he started the news conference Friday.
He credited his speedy recovery to the thoughts and prayers people have offered him.
"Overwhelming is the word that always comes to mind. I'm the one that's supposed to be out there taking care of people and that's who I am. It's a little difficult for me to sit back and think of other people taking care of me," Hardin said.
He said it was good to be out of the house and he really didn't remember much about the attack.
"We were just doing what we normally do. UT football games are always hectic, always crazy. We were directing traffic and trying to get pedestrians and vehicle safety...then the world started spinning. That's really when it stopped," he recounted.
Hardin remembered going from stopping cars to trying to stay up, to figuring out what's going on, and to understanding what happened.
"You expect you can get hurt on duty. That's part of it....feel prepared as possible," he said. "But this is a situation you learn real quickly you can't be prepared for everything...that's been so eye-opening for me."
He talked about how anything can happen at any time.
"I didn't see him and I think that's the toughest thing for me to deal with. I want to know what my suspect looks like, where he may be. Not being able to give any details to investigators has been frustrating on my side of it."
A volunteer firefighter who witnessed the attack as he was leaving the game spoke with Hardin a couple weeks after and said they had a good conversation.
When asked about his thoughts toward the suspect, he said his feelings about him are a little up in the air.
"He came up behind me and... just a cowardly act -- an attack," he said.
Hardin said he has no doubts he'll feel comfortable at a UT game.
"One of the things I thought was...'wow this is going good today. Traffic's flowing. People are getting out of here. We'll leave in the next 20 minutes.' So, I jinxed myself."
He recognized his wife for all of her help and said the recovery really takes a toll on his family and "she's been amazing through all of this".
Hardin said the biggest things he's paying attention to are the concussion symptoms.
"Dealing with some of the concussion symptoms, dealing with headaches and dizziness, the normal things you would think about with a head injury," Hardin described, "There was a concern for seizures for a little while cause of having a brain bleed and an open wound in the skull."
He said the head injury is the main reason why he wasn't allowed to drive for a period of time.
"My eyes would get tired. I dealt with fatigue, things just weren't normal."
Over the last week or so, Hardin said he was starting to feel more like himself.
Hardin said he was feeling better every day and he's back to work doing light duty things.
The Fraternal Order of Police has offered a $5,400 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible. The TBI has offered $2,500. An anonymous community member from Oak Ridge pledged an additional $5,000. The total reward is now up to $23,400.
The Knoxville Police Department has interviewed several witnesses but would still like to speak to anyone who may have witnessed the incident or saw anyone running, acting nervous or looking suspicious near the intersection of 17th Street and Clinch Avenue between 7:15 p.m. and 7:40 p.m on Saturday, Nov. 18.
You can call 865-215-7212, and you can remain anonymous if you wish.
The suspect has been described as a white male in 20s. He is believed to be 5'10" and wearing a black hoodie and gray sweatpants, according to KPD.