MARC HANLY, a police officer and fire chief in Delaware County, has a nasty welt in the middle of his chest.

And for that his family is thankful.

That's because the welt could have been a bullet hole, a center-of-mass shot that may have been fatal.

"Thank God he was wearing his vest," Hanly's son Michael said yesterday outside their Collingdale home, where a sign on the lawn reads: We support our police. They put their lives on the line everyday for us.

Hanly, 45, a full-time police officer in Ridley Park who also serves as fire chief at Collingdale Fire Company 1, was shot twice about 1:30 a.m. yesterday as he and other officers responded to a report of a possibly suicidal man inside the Mohawk Manor Apartments, off Chester Pike in Norwood.

Police say that Darrel Burt, 36, briefly opened the door and shot Hanly twice. Cops returned fire as Burt closed the door, striking him once in the elbow.

The vest likely saved Hanly's life.

"He said, 'I can't believe it worked,' " Michael Hanly said. "If he wasn't wearing the vest, we wouldn't have been going to the hospital. We would have been at the morgue."

Burt said he had been watching officers outside his door with a surveillance camera, according to the criminal complaint. He surrendered about 3 a.m.

Hanly was treated at the scene - coincidentally, by one of the paramedics from Collingdale Fire Company 1 - then taken to Crozer-Chester Medical Center, said Mike Gallo, a board member of the fire company.

"He's a good chief. Both of his children are firefighters, and it's all-volunteer," Gallo said. "He does a lot for the community of Collingdale and also Ridley Park. He does whatever he can to help anybody."

Hanly also was shot once in the leg. Burt was arraigned on attempted-murder charges and was being held on $500,000 bail.

"To get hit twice and 12 hours later to be able to stand here, someone was looking out for me," Hanly told 6ABC after he was released from the hospital yesterday afternoon.

"It was scary," he said. "It's something we are always told could happen at any time."

Gallo said that everyone at the fire company was relieved to hear that Hanly had survived the encounter.

"We wish him well and hope he recovers real soon and that he'll be back in full spirit," Gallo said.

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