Twenty-Two Virginia Law Enforcement Officers to Receive 2016 VACP Awards for Valor
September 16, 2016 | VACP
Officers from Chesterfield County, Hanover County, Prince William County, Richmond, Virginia Beach and Virginia State Police recognized for heroism; Prince William County Police Officer Ashley Guindon honored posthumously
The Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police & Foundation (VACP) on September 20, 2016 presented twenty-two Virginia law enforcement officers from six agencies with the Association’s highest honor, the Award for Valor. The awards were presented at the Valor Awards Banquet at the VACP Annual Conference, held this year at the Hotel Roanoke in Roanoke, Virginia. The Honorable Mark R. Herring, Attorney General of Virginia, was the keynote speaker and assisted in the presentation of the awards.
The Award for Valor recognizes a law enforcement officer who, in the line of duty, performs an act of extraordinary heroism while engaged with an adversary at imminent personal risk.
Officers receiving the 2016 Awards for Valor are:
Chesterfield County Police Department
Officer First Class Chad T. Shockley
On January 3, 2016, Chesterfield County Police Officer First Class Chad T. Shockley responded to a disturbance call with the report of a subject breaking into a home. Officer Shockley recognized that the suspect possibly was involved in a previous disturbance and assault he had investigated. The caller advised that she was holding the door shut and that the male had a knife.
Officer Shockley observed a man attempting to force entry into the house, and honked his police vehicle horn to get the suspect’s attention. The suspect yelled something at Officer Shockley, then kicked the door open and went inside. Officer Shockley heard a female screaming inside the residence and gave chase. When Officer Shockley got to the front door, he saw the suspect falling to the ground. The female yelled that the suspect had stabbed himself. Officer Shockley ordered the suspect “to get rid of the knife.” The suspect had the long-blade knife in hand as he rose and started to advance towards Officer Shockley. Officer Shockley reacted to the threat by firing one round at the suspect. The suspect was hit by Officer Shockley’s round, fell to the ground and dropped the knife. Officer Shockley kicked the knife out of the suspect’s reach, provided updates on the situation for responding officers, requested rescue, and rendered first aid to the suspect by attempting to control bleeding. Officers began to arrive on scene to assist.
The investigation revealed that the homeowner/caller had received a phone call from the suspect earlier that morning, threatening to kill her and her family. She stated that she had known the suspect for about three years, and he was currently renting property nearby. She stated that the subject had a history of mental illness and was possibly off his medication. She also stated that there had been incidents in the past when the suspect was off his medication and became extremely aggressive to those around him.
Officer First Class Chad T. Shockley’s immediate response to the scene along with his life saving reactions clearly saved the lives of the two occupants of the residence. For his courageous act during a dangerous situation and his commitment to the preservation of life while in harm’s way, Officer Shockley is presented with the 2016 VACP Award for Valor.
Hanover County Sheriff’s Office
Investigator Matthew McGrain
Investigator David Parrish
On the afternoon of October 13, 2015, Hanover County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Matthew McGrain and Investigator David Parrish responded to a call for service for shots fired from a residence. As they approached the home, they could hear a woman frantically screaming from behind the residence.
Investigators McGrain and Parrish rounded the back of the house and encountered a male subject armed with a handgun. He was squatting over the sobbing female victim, who was seated against the porch railing with her hands bound together with zip ties. Another female subject was standing close behind the suspect, clutching a baby in her arms.
The investigators verbally challenged the male subject as they moved towards him to grab his attention. The suspect froze, glaring at the officers, who continued to use verbal de-escalating techniques as they moved towards him. Fortunately, the suspect dropped the firearm on the porch and stepped away from the victims. The investigators handcuffed the male suspect and took him into custody without further incident.
The victim disclosed that she, the suspect’s mother, and her seven-month-old child had been abducted by the male subject, who is her child’s father. The abduction took place following a doctor’s appointment earlier that day.
Investigator McGrain’s and Investigator Parrish’s quick response saved the life of at least one if not all three of the victims. For their impeccable professional judgment as well as their decisive actions, Investigator Matthew McGrain and Investigator David Parrish are presented with the 2016 VACP Award for Valor.
Prince William County Police Department
Officer Ashley Guindon (Posthumous)
Officer David McKeown
Officer Jesse Hempen
On February 27, 2016, Prince William County Police Officers Jesse Hempen and David McKeown, along with new officer Ashley Guindon, responded to a report of a domestic disturbance. The victim was able to communicate the assault prior to the phone being abruptly disconnected. Upon arrival, all three officers were quickly ambushed at the doorway by the male resident who was armed with an assault rifle and a handgun. This suspect used the assault rifle to shoot and critically wound each of the officers in the front yard and retreated into the house.
Officers McKeown and Hempen believed the suspect intended to further harm others in the area, including any responding officers. Officer Hempen, while injured, crawled to a concealed position to radio back critical information about the shooting. Though critically wounded, Officers McKeown and Hempen calmly and clearly communicated the movement of the suspect, provided perimeter points of vantage, and conveyed each of the officers’ positions, observed injuries and associated medical needs. All three officers remained in imminent risk for continued assault by the suspect, but remained vigilant to protect both neighbors in the area and the elementary school-aged son of the involved parties who was attempting to flee the home. Their diligence and commitment to containing the suspect ensured the safety of the young boy and prevented any additional officers or citizens from being harmed.
The officers were immediately disabled upon arriving at the scene of what turned out to be the murder of a wife by her husband, and the murder of their fellow officer, Ashley Guindon, who was shot along with them. Officers McKeown, Hempen, and Guindon demonstrated the utmost bravery and courage in continuing to fight for their lives, the lives of the neighboring citizens, the son of the suspect, and the lives of their fellow officers responding to assist them. Because of the information they were able to convey, the suspect was taken into custody without further injury to any persons. They were faced with an unimaginable situation and their acts of valor allowed resolution to this terrible situation and restored safety to the community.
It was Officer Ashley Guindon’s first and last day on the job, and she responded to the scene with confidence and skill, prepared to defend the innocent victims and her fellow officers. The loss of her life in the line of duty is a sober reminder of the serious risks that our officers face each and every day, on each and every call.
The Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police is proud to honor Prince William County Officer Jesse Hempen, Officer David McKeown and – posthumously – Officer Ashley Guindon with the 2016 VACP Award for Valor.
(NOTE: Eighteen Prince William County police officers responded to the “officer down” calls from Officers Hempen and McKeown and placed themselves at great personal risk to rescue and provide medical aid to their wounded comrades, while the suspect remained a barricaded, armed threat. These officers were selected to receive the 2016 VACP Award for Lifesaving.)
Richmond Police Department
Officer Ryan Bailey
Officer Jacob DeBoard
On the evening of August 5, 2015, Richmond Police officers received a call with the description and location of a known armed person by the name of Keshawn, who had flashed a weapon and had previously shot another individual. As Sergeant Robert Fleming and Officer Jennifer Ward arrived on the scene, a man matching the given description was observed walking down the alley. As those officers approached, the man ran away from them toward Officers Ryan Bailey and Jacob Deboard, who were driving up the alley.
The pair exited their vehicle and engaged the man in conversation, who identified himself as Keshawn Hargrove. It was then that Officer DeBoard noticed an object, believed to be a firearm, in the man’s waistband. Asked if he would come closer, the suspect became nervous and took off running back up the alley towards Fleming and Ward. Both Officers Bailey and DeBoard pursued on foot, dodging the obstacles Hargrove pushed into their path. As Officer Bailey closed in on Hargrove, both men fell to the ground. Upon standing, Hargrove produced the firearm from his waistband and shot Officer Bailey in his left arm. Hargrove then continued running up the alley, shooting at the officers as he fled. Officers Bailey and DeBoard returned fire on the suspect while Sergeant Fleming took cover. Hargrove eventually fell next to a fence as he attempted to round a corner. Officer DeBoard challenged him to show his hands, but he proved unresponsive. Noticing this, Sergeant Fleming kicked the gun away from Hargrove and placed him in handcuffs.
Officer DeBoard radioed for assistance and Sergeant Christopher Jernigan and Officer William Campbell arrived on the scene. Officer Bailey was quickly moved to the back seat of the police car by Fleming and DeBoard, where Campbell then applied pressure to his wound while Jernigan drove the vehicle to the hospital. Their quick action and rapid response is credited with saving Officer Bailey from severe blood loss.
These officers, knowing that they were going into a life-threatening situation, performed with the utmost valor in the face of grave danger. At a risk of their own peril, they bravely exchanged gunfire with a known convicted felon. The VACP proudly honors Richmond Police Officers Ryan Bailey and Jacob DeBoard with the 2016 Award for Valor.
Richmond Police Department
Officer Matthew Cavanaugh
On the afternoon of November 16, 2015, while sitting in their vehicle at a gas station, two victims were abducted by an armed individual and forced to drive to a bank. One of the two victims was ordered to enter the bank and withdraw money. Instead, he entered the bank and told staff about what was going on, and they notified police.
The suspect made the driver of the vehicle drive away as officers arrived. An officer in the area spotted the vehicle and attempted to conduct a traffic stop, but the vehicle did not yield. It was then that the officer saw the driver was being held at gunpoint. A pursuit was initiated and the officer radioed that the incident was now being treated as a hostage situation.
As the pursuit passed through Third Precinct, Officer Matthew Cavanaugh joined in as the third vehicle. Due to the nature of the incident, the decision was made to allow Cavanaugh to stay in that position as support due to his training as a SWAT officer and his ability to perform professionally and calmly in high stress situations.
The pursuit entered Henrico County and spike strips were deployed to disable the victim’s vehicle, which did travel over the spikes but continued beyond that point. The strips however did disable the first two police cruisers, leaving Officer Cavanaugh as the lead vehicle in pursuit. The victim’s vehicle eventually lost its tires and spun out of control before coming to a stop. The suspect then fired at the victim, striking him in the head, and again through the back windshield at Officer Cavanaugh, striking him in the ear.
Officer Cavanaugh then maneuvered his vehicle into a strategic position and exited, taking cover behind the door and engine block. The suspect was still firing at Officer Cavanaugh and a bullet struck the spotlight next to the officer's head. Knowing the victim was still in the vehicle, Officer Cavanaugh fired several well-aimed rounds at the suspect, rendering him unable to continue firing. The suspect was then detained and the victim retrieved from the vehicle and taken to the hospital for treatment where he was able to recover from his injuries. Officer Cavanaugh also was treated at the scene and sent to the hospital. The scene was contained and the suspect treated for his injuries and eventually charged with multiple offenses.
Officer Cavanaugh’s calm and skilled response to a highly volatile situation saved the lives of the victims, his fellow officers and the suspect while successfully stopping a dangerous threat. The Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police is proud to honor Richmond Police Officer Matthew Cavanaugh with the 2016 Award for Valor.
Richmond Police Department
Master Police Officer William Turner
On January 2, 2015 in the early afternoon, Master Police Officer William Turner responded to a call from Richmond Behavioral Health Authority to assist with an emotionally disturbed individual. Upon arrival, Officer Turner observed two RBHA social workers with a male individual and asked if he was the subject in question. Almost immediately, the male subject produced a concealed handgun and began firing at Officer Turner.
Officer Turner, a 31-year veteran of the department, sustained serious gunshot wounds to his eye, lower abdomen, and leg. Officer Turner immediately sought cover and was able return accurate fire at the suspect, incapacitating him.
Officer Turner was able to radio in that he had been struck by gunfire and needed assistance. Officer Sarah Campbell arrived shortly after the exchange of gunfire and, realizing the seriousness of Officer Turner’s injuries, immediately took him to VCU Medical Trauma Center. While en route, Officer Campbell calmly kept dispatch advised of Turner’s condition and the situation for officers responding to the scene of the shooting. Officer Campbell’s decision to immediately transport Officer Turner to the hospital was critical to saving his life and aiding in his recovery. (NOTE: For these quick actions, Officer Campbell was selected to receive the 2016 VACP Award for Lifesaving.)
Officer Turner, after undergoing numerous surgeries at VCU Medical Center, was released to return home several weeks later to continue his recovery.
Officer William Turner, although critically wounded by the gunman, used sound tactics to return fire and incapacitate his assailant. He is the embodiment of what recruits are taught every day at the Richmond Police Academy — “Never give up!” His courage and actions most likely prevented this armed, mentally disturbed individual from causing further harm to other citizens and responding officers. The VACP is pleased to honor veteran Richmond Police Officer William Turner with the 2016 Award for Valor.
Virginia Beach Police Department
Officer Bradley S. Colas
On May 20, 2015, Virginia Beach police officers were dispatched to a call for two women who had their wallets and cell phones taken from them at gun point by two male suspects. Both suspects were reportedly armed with handguns. Officers responded to the scene and ran an electronic trace of the victim’s phone, locating it at a shopping center.
Officer Steven R. Brown pulled up to the shopping center and went into the wireless phone store for any evidence relating to the robbery. As Officer Brown approached the front door, he discovered it was locked and saw a Hispanic male matching the description of the robbery suspect get up while holding a black handgun. The suspect then immediately grabbed another black male and put the gun to his head. Officer Brown reported over his police radio that he had an apparent hostage situation in progress. Due to the fact he was unable to make entry into the store, he retreated to his patrol vehicle for cover.
Officer Bradley S. Colas responded to the scene to assist Brown. The suspect then exited the front of the business, holding a man hostage at gunpoint. Commands were given to drop the gun and to release the hostage. The suspect pulled the hostage closer and told the officers, if they moved, he was going to shoot the hostage. The suspect kept his back to the business and side-stepped, using the hostage as a human shield while holding a gun with his right hand pointed at the man’s head. Officers were unable to engage the suspect due to not having a clear shot.
The suspect made it to the corner of the business and moved out of sight. Officer Colas initiated a foot pursuit with the suspect. Colas observed that the hostage had been released, and then continued to chase the suspect through the parking lot. As the suspect was running, he turned over his left shoulder and pointed a gun at Officer Colas and fired a shot. Officer Colas knew the individual had just robbed two people, held a man hostage, and fired a gun at him. Despite placing himself in an imminently perilous position, he knew that the suspect needed to be apprehended before he hurt someone.
As the suspect ran into a dark alley, Officer Colas continued to give chase. After a failed attempt at jumping a fence, the suspect turned with the gun in his hand. Fearing for his life, Officer Colas discharged his service weapon, striking the suspect.
Officer Brown caught up with Officer Colas, who was holding the suspect at gun point. It was at this point that the officers noticed blood on the suspect’s shirt. The officers gave commands to the suspect to move backwards towards them. The suspect complied, but immediately collapsed. Officer Brown and Colas approached with caution and took him into custody. Officer Brown immediately began giving medical aid and called for additional units to bring medical supplies.
Additional officers responded and they were successful in stopping the bleeding. Once EMS was on scene, the officers briefed them of the nature of injuries and what they had done to aid the person. Medical professionals would later provide statements directly attributing the officers’ lifesaving care with the man’s ultimate recovery from his wounds.
For his bravery and skilled response, the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police proudly presents the 2016 Award for Valor to Virginia Beach Police Officer Bradley Colas.
Virginia Beach Police Department
Master Police Officer Edward Donohue
Master Police Officer Paul Lynch
Master Police Officer Brian Staub
On May 1, 2015, Virginia Beach police officers were dispatched to a call to find that a man had been shot in the abdomen and the suspect was located inside a nearby apartment. The victim advised officers that he had been shot by his friend. As the victim was being evacuated, the suspect began firing shots from inside his apartment. Multiple officers responded to the scene and began setting up a perimeter to contain the suspect. For the next thirty minutes, the suspect and officers exchanged gunfire. Throughout the ensuing gun battle, officers reported hearing bullets going through the air by their heads and striking nearby objects. It was clear this subject was an imminent threat to officers and others in the immediate area.
Master Police Officers Edward Donohue, Paul Lynch, and Brian Staub arrived on scene and were informed that people were standing in an exposed open area north of the target apartment. Concerned about their safety, the officers immediately responded to that location. They soon realized this area was located in a spot that gave the suspect an avenue of escape if he left the apartment. The gunfire abruptly stopped and the suspect suddenly exited the apartment and began running towards the officers, armed with a handgun. MPO Lynch took aim with his firearm; however, he realized that if he fired, the round could possibly go through the apartment in the background, so he held his fire.
The officers immediately identified themselves and began to command the suspect to “get on the ground” and “drop the gun.” The suspect changed direction and began to run to the back of a building where he was in dark shadows and the officers could not see him. MPO Staub used his flashlight to illuminate the suspect and the three officers left safe cover to give chase — a highly dangerous but courageous action. As they were chasing the suspect, he threw down the handgun and went to the ground, lying flat, in a facedown position. As the officers approached, MPO Staub and MPO Lynch provided cover as MPO Donohue moved in to make the arrest. MPO Donohue observed a gun in a holster the suspect was wearing and another gun tucked into the suspect’s waistband.
As MPO Donohue began handcuffing the suspect’s left hand, the suspect made a movement toward his waistband with his right hand. After subduing the suspect, Donohue was able to fully handcuff the suspect and remove the weapons from him, along with additional magazines and a knife. At this point the suspect was extremely disorderly and attempted to spit on officers and rescue workers who were attending to the gunshot wound on his lower leg.
The heroic actions of these officers were clearly done at extreme personal risk as they protected their fellow officers and the citizens of Virginia Beach. While these officers would have been justified in using deadly force in order to stop the suspect and prevent further risk to the public or themselves, they considered the potential harm to the innocent citizens in the apartment complex. Their sheer professionalism allowed them to take the armed offender into custody without deadly force.
The VACP is honored to present these three Virginia Beach Master Police Officers — Paul Lynch, Brian Staub and Edward Donohue — with the 2016 Award for Valor.
Virginia State Police
Sergeant James A. Pew
Sergeant James Pew had gotten the call from a friend about a vehicle parked in front of the friend’s house that appeared to have been abandoned. Sergeant Pew was on his way to the office when he decided to go by the friend’s Virginia Beach residence and check on the vehicle.
Sergeant Pew found the Ford Explorer still parked alongside the curb. When he ran the license plate, the Ford Explorer came back as being reported stolen. Sergeant Pew was on the phone with Virginia Beach Police to follow up on their stolen vehicle report when he observed a black Chevrolet Blazer slam on the brakes as it began to turn onto the street where Sergeant Pew was located. The vehicle quickly sped off in the opposite direction.
Believing the Blazer may be involved with the stolen vehicle, Sergeant Pew immediately gave pursuit. With emergency lights and siren activated, Sergeant Pew attempted to stop the Blazer as it raced through a neighborhood, coming to a stop in the back of a cul-de-sac. Before the sergeant could even put his cruiser into park, he came under fire.
The driver of the Blazer immediately began shooting his handgun at the sergeant’s patrol car. Meanwhile, the Blazer’s passenger — dressed in camouflage, body armor, and a ski mask — was now advancing towards the sergeant’s vehicle and relentlessly firing rounds from his high-powered rifle into the patrol car.
As bullets ripped through the windshield into his vehicle, Sergeant Pew opened his door and used it for cover so he could safely roll out of his vehicle and engage the suspects. At this point, the masked passenger retreated. The momentary lull in gunfire enabled Sergeant Pew to open the driver’s side backdoor so he could retrieve his rifle. Both suspects were already shooting at him again.
This time the masked passenger was only 50 yards away, having taken cover behind a pickup truck in a nearby driveway. Sergeant Pew radioed to Virginia State Police dispatch “shots fired,” and took cover from behind the driver’s side passenger door as he returned fire with the suspects.
Having emptied his service pistol, the sergeant reloaded while moving to the back of his patrol car. The driver of the Blazer, while still shooting at the sergeant, drove out of the cul-de-sac and sped past the patrol car. Sergeant Pew rapidly moved to the passenger side of his patrol car in an attempt to put the engine block between him and the barrage of bullets. As the Blazer fled the scene, the passenger took off on foot between the houses.
Approximately 10 minutes following the conclusion of the shootout, Virginia Beach Police had the passenger in custody without further incident or any injury to the officers. The next day, the driver of the Blazer was also apprehended without further incident.
Sergeant Pew was transported to a nearby hospital for treatment of a multitude of cuts and scrapes to his face, arms and legs caused by the shattering glass and ricocheted gravel. It was during his exam that the doctor discovered the mark left by the bullet that had grazed the sergeant’s left temple.
What had started out as a simple follow up to a friend’s request almost cost the 16-year Virginia State Police veteran his life. The abandoned vehicle led to the arrest of two serial bank robbery suspects. The vehicle Sergeant Pew was initially checking on was part of the men’s getaway routine after robbing a bank. Sergeant Pew didn’t know that the two men had just finished robbing a nearby bank at gunpoint when they pulled up and found Sergeant Pew checking on their strategically-placed vehicle. The FBI, Virginia Beach Police Department, and Chesapeake Police Department are still investigating the men’s possible connection to 12 other armed bank robberies in the area going back to January 2011.
Sergeant Pew relentlessly pursued two very dangerous suspects, put his own life at risk in an effort to apprehend them, and still put others’ safety before his own by making certain no citizens were injured in the exchange of gunfire on their street. In addition, his perseverance and service resulted in the capture of two serial bank robbers who have eluded local and federal law enforcement for the past four years.
In recognition of his valor and selfless service, the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police is proud to present Virginia State Police Sergeant James A. Pew with the 2016 Award of Valor.
Virginia State Police
First Sergeant Gary J. Hack, Jr.
Special Agent Brian N. Webster
Trooper Robert E. Brooke, III
Trooper Andrew C.S. Goss
Trooper Jason J. Hite
Trooper Jared T. Murdoch
Trooper Christopher B. Sizemore
The 15-hour hostage standoff started Friday night, December 18, 2015, with a family calling the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office for help. A 24-year-old male relative, previously diagnosed with a mental health problem, took his 3-year-old son hostage at gunpoint inside a locked bedroom of a doublewide trailer. Overnight, the male subject had already fired at the sheriff’s office SWAT team positioned inside the trailer.
At daybreak the next morning, the Virginia State Police Appomattox Division Tactical Team relieved the sheriff’s office and took up position inside the trailer to continue negotiations with the father. The VSP Assistant Tact Team Leader, Trooper Andrew C.S. Goss led his team — Troopers Robert E. Brooke, III, Jason J. Hite, Jared T. Murdoch, and Christopher B. Sizemore — into the residence.
Initially, Trooper Goss directed the Tact Team to position in the kitchen of the trailer, as it provided the best cover for team members to safely stage and prepare for entry. It also provided the safest line of sight to the small alcove and the door of the bedroom containing the man and his young son.
It was decided that Special Agent Gary J. Hack, Jr. needed to enter the residence to spur negotiations with the male subject. Inside the trailer, Special Agent Hack’s efforts to negotiate were met with limited, hostile feedback and verbal threats by the gunman to harm himself and his son. The Tact Team and Special Agent Hack were increasingly concerned for the toddler’s welfare due to the duration and intensity of the standoff. (NOTE: Special Agent Hack has since been promoted to First Sergeant.)
It was almost noon when Trooper Goss made the call to make entry into the bedroom to rescue the child and apprehend the father. Trooper Brooke, assigned to the .40-caliber less-than-lethal rifle, was positioned just behind the corner of the kitchen counter to the left of Special Agent Hack and alongside Trooper Hite, who was providing cover with the M-4 patrol rifle. Trooper Sizemore was also in position with his rifle providing cover. Trooper Murdoch was kneeling behind a ballistic shield and closest to the bedroom that contained the armed male subject and the child.
Trooper Goss and Special Agent Brian N. Webster prepared an explosive charge in the kitchen with Trooper Murdoch providing them cover with the ballistic shield. To prevent the barricaded male subject from overhearing the operational plans, Special Agent Hack kept talking to the defiant subject. As the Tact Team members had to move into position, Special Agent Hack found himself without cover.
The plan was for Troopers Brooke, Hite and Sizemore to stay in position at the counter as Trooper Murdoch advanced Trooper Goss and Special Agent Webster towards the bedroom door for placement of the explosive charge in advance of the Team making entry. Just as Trooper Goss and Special Agent Webster rounded the corner of the kitchen, Special Agent Hack and Trooper Murdoch heard what sounded like a doorknob turning — and without warning — the small child emerged from the bedroom and wandered into the living area just feet away from the Tact Team.
Trooper Murdoch, with his pistol trained on the bedroom door and his shield resting against his knee, used his free hand to gesture the child towards him, calling the bewildered little boy to the safety of the Tact Team. Special Agent Hack, who was still exposed and without cover, did the same — despite being at risk for his own safety — even using a water bottle to entice the toddler towards him and Trooper Murdoch.
Within seconds, the father emerged from the bedroom. As Trooper Murdoch commanded the father to show his hands and come out slowly, the father revealed a pistol and pointed it directly at the Trooper. Trooper Hite yelled “gun” as Trooper Murdoch fired.
Trooper Hite also fired as the father shot several rounds at Trooper Murdoch, who was still crouched behind the shield on the floor. When the firing ceased, the air was choked with smoke and dust from bullets penetrating the drywall and the smoke alarm was going off. Now the little boy was nowhere to be found, and the father had retreated back into the bedroom.
Fearing that the father had retaken the boy, Trooper Goss quickly assembled the Tact Team members into a “stack” and readied it to make entry into the bedroom. As Troopers Goss, Murdoch, Brooke, Hite, and Sizemore moved into the alcove, they heard the muffled sounds of the crying child. It was then that they realized the little boy, who was not hurt, was in the bedroom opposite the one they were about to enter.
Trooper Murdoch left the safety of the group, at the direction of Trooper Goss, and entered the opposing bedroom, calling the child by name. Dropping the shield, Trooper Murdoch pulled down his protective mask so he wouldn’t frighten the sobbing boy. He gently picked up the toddler and repeatedly reassured him that he was safe. He placed the child against his armor, away from the still-armed subject in the opposite bedroom, and kept his pistol trained on the door as the Tact Team made final entry.
With Trooper Murdoch in the other room, Trooper Sizemore stepped up to take the shield and lead Troopers Goss, Hite and Brooke into the bedroom. There they encountered the father inside still armed, but unconscious and bleeding. The troopers secured the room and called for medical assistance for the subject.
As soon as it was safe to exit, Trooper Murdoch — still cuddling the little boy — left the bedroom and rushed the boy to immediate medical attention.
The medical examiner confirmed that the father had fired the fatal shot and taken his own life prior to the Tactical Team’s entry into the bedroom. The young boy was returned to his family and survived the entire ordeal without physical injury. No State Police or local law enforcement personnel were injured.
The concerted actions demonstrated by the Tact Team members, Special Agent Hack and Special Agent Webster were above and beyond the call of duty. They displayed exceptional leadership, courage, and professionalism by putting their lives on the line to save a young child’s life and protect one another from harm.
The Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police is proud to present the 2016 Award for Valor to Virginia State Police First Sergeant Gary J. Hack, Jr.; Special Agent Brian Webster; and Troopers Robert E. Brooke, III; Andrew Goss; Jason Hite; Jared Murdoch and Christopher Sizemore.
The Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police & Foundation (www.vachiefs.org) is a statewide charitable organization of federal, state and local police chiefs and other law enforcement executives dedicated to improving the professionalism of police agencies in Virginia and to providing training and education programs for law enforcement executives. The Association was founded in 1926 and has more than 600 members.
Contact: Ms. Dana Schrad, Executive Director
Pictured: (front row, l to r.) Colas, Staub, Donohue, Guindon, Hempen, Lynch.
(middle row, l. to r.) McGrain, Shockley, Hack, Brooke, Murdoch, Goss, Sizemore.
(back row l. to r.) Parrish, McKeown, Turner, DeBoard, Bailey, Webster.
Not pictured: Cavanaugh, Pew, Hite.
Photo Credit: Erin Schrad, VACP
Additional photos at http://photos.vachiefs.org/VACP-Conferences/2016-VACP-Annual-Conference/Banquet-Board-Installation