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Thirty-Three Virginia Law Enforcement Officers Receive 2023 VACP Awards for Valor

Officers from Chesapeake, Chesterfield County, Danville, Fairfax County, Gloucester County, Lynchburg, Manassas City, Metro Transit Police (DC), Prince William County, Richmond, Shenandoah County, Woodstock, and Virginia State Police recognized for heroism.


2023 VACP AWARDS PROGRAM (PDF)
2023 VACP AWARDS PHOTOS (Photo Credit: Erin Schrad, VACP)

On September 12, 2023, the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police & Foundation (VACP) presented thirty-three Virginia law enforcement officers from fourteen agencies with the Association's highest honor, the Award for Valor. The awards were presented during the VACP Awards Banquet at the 98th Annual VACP Conference in Norfolk, Virginia.
 
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 2023 Awards for Valor are: 
 
Chesapeake Police Department
Officer Christopher Hass

On June 31, 2022, Officer Christopher Hass volunteered to work a targeted enforcement assignment in the South Norfolk section of Chesapeake. This particular assignment focused on reducing violent crime in the area. Precarious interactions with armed individuals are the dangers officers accept when volunteering for such assignments. 

During his tour, Officer Hass responded to the 2700 block of Campostella Road in reference to an armed subject call. The suspect had threatened his ex-girlfriend with a firearm and was last seen in the area. Officer Hass was familiar with the suspect and quickly identified him on the sidewalk of a shopping center. As he made contact, he noticed the suspect's firearm through his t-shirt. Officer Hass immediately gave commands for the suspect to put his hands on his head. The suspect refused and Officer Hass drew his Taser. The suspect began to walk away towards a brick pillar. Simultaneously, the suspect drew a handgun from his waistband and Officer Hass deployed his Taser. The suspect fired multiple rounds as he fell in between two vehicles. Officer Hass immediately transitioned to his firearm and covered down on the area, but could no longer see the suspect. Even though Officer Hass was faced with a deadly encounter, he remained calm and collected.

The suspect low-crawled to Officer Hass' police vehicle and quickly entered the driver's seat. Showing disregard for his own personal safety, Officer Hass confronted the suspect and gave him several commands. The suspect did not comply and sped off. After a short pursuit, responding officers intercepted the suspect who then crashed into a tree. The suspect was apprehended and taken into custody without further incident. 

Officer Hass displayed outstanding bravery while being fired upon. He stayed calm, did not return fire for lack of a clear shot, and deescalated quickly when he could see the suspect no longer had a firearm in his hands. He did all of this while giving clear information over the radio for responding units.

The VACP is proud to present Chesapeake Police Officer Christopher Hass with the VACP Award for Valor.


Chesapeake Sheriff's Office
Investigator Scott Chambers


On January 11, 2023, Chesapeake Sheriff's Office Investigator Chambers was working with the United States Marshal's Capital Area Regional Fugitive Task Force in Hampton along with other Task Force members. They were tracking Lamont Lewis who was wanted for the homicide of his wife on December 25, 2022. Lewis allegedly tortured his wife before shooting her in the head. He was the passenger in a vehicle being driven by an unknown female. 

The Task Force had been following the vehicle for approximately 30 minutes when a vehicle take-down was initiated. Lewis' vehicle was pinned by Task Force Officers at the front, rear, and the passenger door where Lewis was sitting. Investigator Chambers' vehicle was the rear pin while an armored Suburban had pinned Lewis' door closed. The female driver was directed out of the vehicle where Investigator Chambers ensured her safety and passed her back to Task Force Officers where she was detained. Since Lewis' door was pinned closed, he climbed over the center console of the vehicle and exited through the driver's side door with a pistol in each hand, firing at officers.

Investigator Chambers was positioned on the driver's side and was struck by three rounds fired by Lewis. The first round went through Investigator Chambers' left shoulder and the second round struck him in the left leg. Investigator Chambers returned fire striking Lewis several times.

Investigator Chambers and Lewis were transported to Riverside Medical Center where Lewis was pronounced deceased. Investigator Chambers arrived at the medical center in critical condition and would undergo two surgeries requiring a weeklong hospital stay. 

The VACP is proud to present Chesapeake Sheriff's Office Investigator Scott Chambers with the VACP Award for Valor.


Chesterfield County Police Department
Officer Hope Lane
Officer Robert Wagner


On October 25, 2022, Chesterfield County Police Officers Hope Lane and Robert Wagner responded to a report of an emotionally disturbed male. The officers encountered the male and family members inside a residence and, after a brief investigation, determined a mental health evaluation of the male was necessary. 

As Officer Wagner waited with the male for a phone call from mental health professionals, Officer Lane interviewed the family in the upstairs portion of the residence. Without warning, the male attacked Officer Wagner and disarmed him of his service weapon. A struggle for the weapon ensued, which prompted Officer Lane to quickly come downstairs and join the fight. The male was able to disengage from the officers and pointed the gun at Officer Lane's head. Officer Wagner was able to strike the gun, which moved it in a different direction as the suspect fired two shots. One of these shots struck Officer Lane in her leg. Officer Lane drew and fired her handgun at the suspect, striking him one time. The suspect, still holding Officer Wagner's gun, continued to pose a threat to the officers. Officer Lane moved tactically and re-engaged the suspect by firing another round and striking the suspect who then surrendered. 

After the suspect was taken into custody, Officer Wagner was found to have a bruised lung likely caused during the fight with the suspect. Colonel Jeffrey S. Katz said, "These two officers epitomized selfless courage in the face of the most extreme adversity. Their character, the quality of their training, and their commitment to one another merits recognition."

The VACP is proud to present Chesterfield County Police Officers Hope Lane and Robert Wagner with the VACP Award for Valor.


Danville Police Department
Corporal Todd J. Hawkins
Officer Lance I. Neighbors
Detective Lt. John D. Dixon
Detective Sgt. Richard P. Wright
Detective Jordan T. Land


On the morning of February 10, 2023, the Danville Police Department responded to a robbery. After the investigation, warrants were obtained on the suspect for robbery with a firearm, attempted abduction, felony domestic assault, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and two counts of use of a firearm in commission of a felony.

Later that afternoon, officers responded to a call about a fight in progress. Corporal Todd Hawkins Hawkins and his partner, Officer Lance Neighbors, were the first officers on the scene. The suspect in the robbery from earlier in the day was involved in a physical altercation with a citizen. When the suspect saw the officers, he fired on them. While under direct fire, Corporal Hawkins remained calm, retrieved the rifle from the back of the patrol vehicle, and returned fire. Corporal Hawkins received cover from Officer Neighbors. The suspect then ran away on foot through a wooded area.

Detective Lieutenant John Dixon, Detective Sergeant Richard Wright, and Detective Jordan Land were in the area when they heard the officers requesting assistance and they immediately responded. The suspect fled the scene and proceeded to a residence, fired into the front door, and entered the residence. The suspect then demanded the occupant's vehicle. The suspect took the vehicle, drove through a field, and eventually struck a tree. He left the car in the field and walked off.

It was determined that the suspect — armed with a firearm — had fled into a wooded area that led to a school during operating hours. The detectives repositioned themselves at the school to provide safety and protection to the school, students, parents, and staff. Detectives notified dispatch to place the school on lockdown for enhanced security. The suspect left the field and came out in the back of the school where parents were waiting for their children to be released. The suspect, while holding a gun, approached a parent in her car. The suspect pointed the gun at her and took the car. The detectives initiated a vehicle pursuit on the violent suspect which reached speeds of 80 mph. The pursuit covered approximately 10 miles and lasted for approximately 8 minutes. The suspect entered a residential neighborhood, crashed into an occupied vehicle, and then rested after hitting a telephone pole, which ended the pursuit.

The suspect exited the vehicle armed with the firearm and a foot pursuit ensued. After traveling a short distance, the suspect attempted to break into another residence, but the resident had barricaded the door blocking his entrance into the house. Detectives gave chase and encountered the suspect as he was trying to force his way into the occupied residence. The suspect had the firearm in his hand while yelling for the officers to “kill him.” Detectives immediately began to de-escalate by calling the suspect by name and began reasoning with him while other detectives provided lethal cover. The detectives were able to build a quick rapport which led to impactful dialogue between the detectives and the suspect. They persuaded the suspect to drop the firearm and surrender. The detectives requested medical attention for the residents, who were suffering from panic attacks.

The officers and detectives remained calm and professional during the hostile situation where shots had been fired. They were able to think clearly and made quick decisions that led to the safety of residents, students, parents, staff, and bystanders. Although their adrenaline was high, they were still able to instantly de-escalate the situation with an armed suspect that had already shot at the police. They showed empathy and courage to apprehend a violent offender quickly and successfully without anybody being seriously injured.

The VACP is  proud to present Corporal Todd Hawkins, Officer Lance Neighbors, Detective Lieutenant John Dixon, Detective Sergeant Richard Wright, and Detective Jordan Land with the VACP Award for Valor.


Fairfax County Police Department
MPO Lance T. Guckenberger
MPO Matthew C. Grubb


On December 12, 2020, at approximately 1100 hours, Fairfax County police officers responded to an apartment on Peach Orchard Drive in McLean, Virginia, for a report of a gunshot victim. The victim reported that he had been shot in the face by his roommate and was able to lock himself in his bedroom. SWAT officers heard the call go out and began to respond to the call to assist patrol.

As SWAT officers arrived on scene of the incident, the victim began to report that the suspect was still in the apartment, armed with a gun and attempting to gain access into his bedroom to do further harm. Master Police Officer Lance Guckenberger, Master Police Officer Matthew Grubb, Master Police Officer Brian Walley, Sergeant Carolina Oliver and Police Officer First Class Randy Bronte-Tinkew were the first SWAT officers to arrive and quickly grabbed breaching gear and a shield to make an emergency hostage rescue. 

SWAT officers quickly ran up to the 4th floor of the apartment building to relieve patrol and begin their emergency entry to rescue the hostage trapped inside. MPO Grubb and Sergeant Oliver set the breaching tool into the door frame and made a successful breach of the apartment. Moments after entry into the apartment, MPO Grubb and MPO Guckenberger were ambushed by the suspect who began shooting at them. After an exchange of gunfire inside the small hallway, the suspect retreated into a bedroom. During the exchange of gunfire, MPO Grubb was grazed on his left arm by a bullet fired by the suspect. 

MPO Walley was then able to position his shield in the hallway to protect the officers as they continued to look for the victim. MPO Guckenberger found the victim's locked bedroom and breached that door to begin rendering aid. Relying on their training, SWAT officers calmly coordinated with each other to safely rescue the victim from inside the apartment. The victim was quickly taken to medical aid.

After the victim had been successfully recovered from the apartment, SWAT officers backed out of the apartment and maintained cover from the hallway. At this point, Lieutenant Shannon Massey and Master Police Officer Michael Morris arrived and began to assist. SWAT officers deployed a robot to find the suspect. With the use of the robot, SWAT officers safely located the suspect in a bedroom, sitting on the floor, with a gun still next to him. SWAT officers were then able to talk the suspect into leaving his gun behind and crawling out into the hallway. There they were able to safely take him into custody without further incident. With the suspect safely in custody, SWAT officers immediately began to render medical aid to the suspect.

Due to the heroic actions of these SWAT officers, a violent suspect was taken into custody and a hostage was saved from further injury or death. The VACP is proud to present Fairfax County MPO Lance Guckenberger and MPO Matthew Grubb with the VACP Award for Valor.

Additionally, we are proud to recognize Lt. Shannon Massey, MPO Brian Walley, Sgt. Carolina Oliver, MPO Michael Morris, and PFC Randy Bronte-Tinkew with the VACP Award for Lifesaving. The Awards for Lifesaving will be presented to the honorees at a local ceremony at a later date.


Gloucester County Sheriff's Office
Deputy Danielle Woodard
Deputy Cody Tillage


On March 25, 2023, Gloucester County Sheriff's Deputies Danielle Woodard and Cody Tillage would face evil straight on in a gun fight for their lives. At 5:23 pm, they were dispatched to a burglary in progress by an armed intruder. Gloucester County 911 received third-party information about a man attempting to break into the home of a female with whom he had previously been in a relationship. The caller advised that the man was distraught over the recent break up and was being irrational. As deputies responded, dispatchers were able to make contact directly with the homeowner to gather additional information. The homeowner advised that she recently ended a relationship with the male, and he was currently at her residence with a handgun with the intention of killing her dog and himself. The resident wasn't home at the time but was watching the event unfold over her security cameras.

Deputy Tillage arrived just prior to Deputy Woodard and noticed a truck parked in front of the residence with the engine running and the driver's door open. As Deputy Woodard arrived, she cleared the passenger's side of the vehicle as Tillage cleared the driver's side. Woodard made her way to the right side of the house and Tillage work his way around the left side. As Tillage approached the rear corner, he observed a male standing on the back deck of the home but remained out of sight of the intruder. Information was relayed via radio to Woodard and as she approached the area of the deck, the intruder was observed walking down the steps towards the back yard. Deputies Woodard and Tillage began giving verbal commands and, without hesitation, the intruder spun in Woodard's direction, fired at her, and immediately spun towards Tillage firing additional rounds. Both deputies returned fire, striking the individual who fell to the ground. Once securing the suspect and the firearm, they immediately provided aid to the individual that moments before tried to take their lives. Miraculously, neither deputy was injured. Preliminary autopsy results show that this individual took his own life after falling from their gunfire.

The Virginia State Police concluded their investigation and submitted their findings to the Gloucester County Commonwealth's Attorney Office for review. Commonwealth's Attorney John Dusewicz and Chief Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney Marie Walls wrote in their findings, "We conclude that there is no criminal misconduct by either deputy and their actions were not only justified but showed extraordinary calmness under pressure, skill, thought, and actions that we expect from our law enforcement personnel." The Sheriff's Office's internal investigation also reveals that both deputies were acting within the law and office policy during this incident. 

Deputies Woodard and Tillage are an asset to the Sheriff's Office and the community of Gloucester County. The suspect in this incident came to this home with evil intentions and was interrupted by two courageous deputies who survived the suspect's attempt to shoot his way out of the situation. They were committed to protecting each other and the community they serve.

The VACP is proud to present Gloucester County Sheriff's Deputy Danielle Woodard and Deputy Cody Tillage with the VACP Award for Valor.


Lynchburg Police Department
Officer Joshua Massie 
Officer Raymond Shelton
Officer Michael Donellan


On December 31st, Lynchburg Police Officers Joshua Massie, Raymond Shelton, and Michael Donellan were involved in a vehicle pursuit and subsequent officer-involved shooting.

Officers encountered Jonathan Poe, a violent felon who was actively engaged in a vehicle pursuit with other members of the Lynchburg Police Department. As a result of the pursuit, Poe lost control of his vehicle and was involved in a significant motor vehicle accident. Within seconds after the motor vehicle accident, Poe began firing shots at officers within 15 feet of him. Officers Massie, Shelton, and Donellan immediately began to return gunfire.

Throughout the exchange of gunfire, officers communicated calmly, letting one another know when they would be completing magazine changes and providing cover for each other during the process. By doing this, officers on the scene were able to bring a successful end to the situation, resulting in no law enforcement officers or the general public being injured. The officers then rendered lifesaving medical aid to Poe before transferring medical care to the Lynchburg Fire Department medics. These officers should be commended for their courage and professionalism during a very stressful and dangerous situation.

The VACP is proud to present Lynchburg Police Officer Joshua Massie, Officer Raymond Shleton, and Officer Michael Donellan with the VACP Award for Valor.


Manassas City Police Department
MPO Christopher Daniels
SPO Shaun Barrett
SPO Cooper Knight
Officer Colin Hummel
Officer Terell Duck


On May 21, 2022, Manassas City police officers were dispatched for a report of a suicidal subject armed with a butcher knife. 

Senior Police Officer Cooper Knight relayed that the emotionally disturbed individual had exited the residence with the 10-inch butcher knife in his hand. The subject began walking away from Officer Knight and Master Police Officer Christopher Daniels, who were trying to contain him as there was a children's birthday party nearby.

Sergeant Joshua Aussems took command of the scene and directed officers to instruct the individuals outside to shelter in their homes. Officer Khalia Bowden maintained contact and relayed valuable information from the subject's family members, who had been previously evacuated.

The subject proceeded to a common area in the housing development where Sergeant Aussems coordinated an arrest team. The arrest team consisted of less-lethal coverage (both Taser and less-lethal shotgun) and lethal coverage. Once it became clear that the knife-wielding subject had no intentions of surrendering, and officers had a clear backstop, the subject was struck in the buttocks with a bean bag round from a less-lethal shotgun by Officer Barrett. Officers Duck, Hummel, Daniels, Barrett, and Knight then engaged with the subject. Once they were able to get him to stop resisting, the subject was placed in handcuffs. The subject was then put under an Emergency Custody Order for a mental health evaluation.

This was a volatile situation that could have had a different outcome as all officers and community members were in immediate danger. However, due to the leadership of Sergeant Aussems, excellent communication, and the training and experience of the officers, the situation was de-escalated without further incident.

The VACP is proud to present Manassas City Police Officers Christopher Daniels, Shaun Barrett, Cooper Knight, Colin Hummel, and Terrell Duck with the VACP Award for Valor.


Metro Transit Police Department
Officer Cecil Hill


At the Anacostia Station on April 7, 2022, Metro Transit Police Officer Cecil Hill came across an attempted homicide in progress. 

On the day in question, Officer Hill observed a man being stabbed repeatedly on the platform of the station. Officer Hill disrupted the attack and engaged the knife-wielding assailant, preventing the victim from coming to further harm. The attacker then turned on Officer Hill, throwing the knife. Officer Hill fired a single round, stopping the attacker.

Officer Hill then immediately rendered aid to both the victim and the suspect. The victim had about a dozen wounds, and Officer Hill and others utilized their training and equipment to mitigate the bleeding and buy the victim time for EMS personnel to take over. Both the suspect and victim were transported to nearby hospitals where their injuries were stabilized.

If not for Officer Hill's heroic actions in this deadly event, lives would likely have been lost. The VACP is proud to present Metro Transit Police Officer Cecil Hill with the VACP Award for Valor.


Prince William County Police Department
Police Officer Troy W. Hance


On March 24, 2022, Prince William County Police Officer Troy Hance, who was working as the School Resource Officer at Rippon Middle School in Woodbridge, Virginia, was alerted by school staff that they witnessed a suspicious person with a firearm on school grounds. They also informed him they heard a gunshot. Children and staff were rushed into the school while Officer Hance called for additional units and placed the school in lockdown.

Disregarding his own safety, Officer Hance single-handedly began checking the school grounds. A short time later, he observed the suspect on school grounds wearing all black clothing and a black face mask, armed with a rifle and shotgun. Without any backup, Officer Hance immediately engaged the suspect and ordered him to drop his weapons. Thankfully, the suspect complied with commands and was ordered prone to the ground. Officer Hance maintained cover and watched over the suspect until other officers arrived, at which point he was taken into custody.

The investigation revealed the arrestee did in fact fire one round on school grounds prior to Officer Hance's intervention. It is unknown what the perpetrator's motives were, but his actions were halted by observant school staff and Officer Hance's selflessness and bravery. It was later learned the suspect has a violent criminal history. This incident was resolved peacefully and quickly because of Officer Hance's heroism. Officer Hance's quick and decisive actions prevented what could have been another school shooting, and possibly prevented a tragic scenario from unfolding amongst the most vulnerable in our community, our children.

The VACP is proud to present Prince William County Police Officer Troy Hance with the VACP Award for Valor.


Richmond Police Department
Officer Stephen Pishock


During the evening of September 21, 2022, Richmond Police Officer Stephen Pishock was attempting to locate a suspect from a vehicle pursuit that had been recently terminated. Officer Pishock spotted a golf cart driving erratically. After attempting to stop the golf cart, the driver attempted to flee. Not long into the chase, the suspect turned and fired a weapon at the officer. Officer Pishock immediately returned fire.

Even though he was endangered, Officer Pishock was able to call for backup with an accurate description of the suspect, his last known location, and direction of travel. Officer Pishock's vehicle was stuck by gunfire, but luckily, he was uninjured.

The VACP is proud to present Richmond Police Officer Stephen Pishock with the VACP Award for Valor.


Richmond Police Department
Officer Seth Riley
Officer Kevan Kirby
Sergeant Robert Misegades


Richmond Police Officer Seth Riley, Officer Kevan Kirby, and Sergeant Robert Misegades responded to a call regarding an irrational man wielding a machete who was just involved in a traffic accident. The male was walking down the middle of the street, striking vehicles with the machete. When the officers arrived, they were able to maintain a calm demeanor while engaging in conversation with the subject. While in conversation, officers were able to utilize their training skills to coordinate options for a resolution. When the male started acting erratically, a Taser was deployed, only to find the Taser had an incomplete circuit. Another Taser followed and the male was safely apprehended.

The officers' calm demeanor, teamwork, and tactical thinking led to a non-lethal outcome. The VACP is proud to present Richmond Police Officer Seth Riley, Officer Kevan Kirby, and Sergeant Robert Misegades with the VACP Award for Valor.


Richmond Police Department
Officer Nico Young
Officer Michael Triana
Officer Lawrence Read


On the evening of February 13th, 2023, Richmond Police 4th Precinct Officers Nico Young, Michael Triana, and Lawrence Read responded to a call where a male caller stated he had just shot his girlfriend. After arriving on the scene, officers attempted to make contact with the occupants. During a brief silence, the officers worked together to create a forced entry plan. A gunshot rang off that sent officers into action.

After forcefully breaching the front door, the officers confronted and apprehended the suspect. Discovering a wounded female upon entry, the officers quickly provided medical aid by locating the wounds and providing pressure on hemorrhaging injuries until EMS took over.

These officers showed courage, tenacity, and care for others. The VACP is proud to present Richmond Police Officers Nico Young, Michael Triana, and Lawrence Read with the VACP Award for Valor.


Virginia State Police
Senior Trooper Joseph M. Hylton


According to the FBI, roughly 8.5% of the total number of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty between 2011 and 2020 were officers responding to domestic disturbance or domestic violence calls. It is common knowledge among local and state public safety professionals that responding to a domestic disturbance call is among the most dangerous to safely mitigate. The evening of January 14, 2022, proved this true for Virginia State Police Senior Trooper Joseph M. Hylton.

Senior Trooper Hylton is assigned to the Virginia State Police (VSP) Salem Division's Area 42 Office. Area 42 encompasses the City of Martinsville and Henry and Patrick counties.

At 6:59 p.m. on January 14, 2022, the VSP Salem Division Emergency Communications Center received a 911 call from a woman in extreme duress. The caller repeated her home address multiple times, but never actually spoke or responded to the VSP dispatcher's questions. Instead, the woman left the line open allowing the dispatcher to hear a threatening, expletive-filled rant by the woman's assailant. During the call, the dispatcher could hear a man repeatedly threatening to shoot to death her and her dog, especially if she called the police and they were to arrive at the Patrick County residence.

Senior Trooper Hylton was the first to arrive at the residence. The Salem Division Dispatch had advised him of the woman's desperate situation and that he should assume the assailant to be armed with a firearm due to his repeated threats to shoot the woman. Despite the obvious danger to his own safety, Senior Trooper Hylton remain focused on the welfare of the woman inside the residence. He went to the nearest door, knocked, and announced his presence, “State police!” The woman yelled for him to, “Come on in.”

When Senior Trooper Hylton stepped inside and found himself in a very compact kitchen. He encountered the woman and could see visible signs of injury to her face. As he spoke softly to the woman to reassure her that he was there for her safety, the male assailant entered the kitchen and stood just feet away with a firearm in his hand.

Senior Trooper Hylton immediately announced, “State police!” followed by “Drop the gun!” He commanded the assailant to drop the gun a total of five times. The assailant refused to comply with the trooper's commands. Instead, he raised the firearm and pointed it directly at Senior Trooper Hylton and the woman standing near him. Without hesitation, Senior Trooper Hylton discharged his department-issued sidearm and struck the assailant.

Senior Trooper Hylton and a Patrick County Sheriff's Deputy, who arrived just as the shots were being fired, rendered First Aid to the assailant until EMS arrived on scene. The male assailant succumbed to his injuries at the scene.

The VACP is proud to present Virginia State Police Senior Trooper Joseph M. Hylton with the VACP Award for Valor.


Woodstock Police Department
Officer Cole Brandon

Shenandoah County Sheriff's Office
Deputy Hank Hoover, Jr.


On July 25th, 2022 at 2140 hours, Shenandoah County Sheriff's Deputy Hank Hoover and Master Deputy Joshua Cook responded to a disturbance in progress in which the caller reported their neighbor was outside and shining a flashlight into their residence. While enroute to the call, the caller reported the neighbor having a firearm and several gunshots being fired. Deputies arrived and surrounded the caller's residence but were unable to locate the suspect there. 

Woodstock Police Officers Cole Brandon and James Horn were dispatched to assist the Shenandoah County Sheriff's Office with the disturbance in progress. Upon their arrival, Officers Brandon and Horn assisted deputies with attempts to locate the suspect by searching buildings around the area. It was discovered that the suspect had retreated back to his nearby residence. Deputy Cook immediately took over as incident command. Cook instructed Hoover and the other arriving law enforcement officers where to position their vehicles in order to establish a safe area where they could attempt to communicate with the suspect if he were to exit his residence. 

Deputy Hoover was able to establish communication with the suspect via phone and communicated with other officers what the suspect was saying. The suspect made several threats toward law enforcement and disconnected with Hoover. At this time a single gunshot was heard inside the residence. Deputy Hoover attempted to re-establish communication with the suspect via cell phone with negative results. The suspect then came out of the residence and proceeded to his vehicle where he retrieved a handgun. 

Meanwhile, both Officer Brandon and Officer Horn coordinated with deputies at the scene to establish a perimeter around the house. During this process, Deputy Hoover was observed to be alone and in a forward position within the perimeter. He was the only one in a position to observe the entrance to the house and was issuing verbal commands to the suspect to drop his weapon and surrender. Recognizing the danger Deputy Hoover faced, Officer Horn maintained a covering position while Officer Brandon moved forward to assist Deputy Hoover.

Deputy Hoover attempted to negotiate with the suspect; however, the suspect would not put the firearm down and pointed it in the direction of law enforcement several times. Officer Brandon and Deputy Hoover retreated, still giving commands to the suspect, and took cover behind a patrol vehicle. The suspect then retreated back into the residence and Deputy Hoover re-established negotiations via phone. The suspect continued making threats toward law enforcement and his neighbor and made comments about possessing additional firearms. Additional shots were heard from within the home during negotiations with the suspect. 

When the suspect came back out of the residence again, he was still holding the firearm. He moved toward Deputy Hoover, Officer Brandon, and Officer Horn, yelling, making threats and raising the firearm towards the officers. Deputy Hoover and Officer Brandon told the suspect to drop the firearm several times and he did not. At this point, Deputy Hoover and Officer Brandon fired their weapons, striking the suspect. The suspect fell to the ground and Hoover, Brandon, Cook, and other law enforcement personnel advanced toward the suspect, secured the firearm, and began first aid until EMS arrived. 

Deputy Hoover gave clear commands, stayed focused, and used great negotiation techniques. He stayed calm and pleaded with the subject to drop his weapon. Officer Brandon recognized Deputy Hoover's vulnerable position in a life-threatening situation and demonstrated extraordinary bravery and selflessness to go to his aid. Both officers had to make the ultimate decision to ensure the safety not only of themselves, but of all law enforcement officers on scene and the citizens in the area. 
The VACP is proud to present Woodstock Police Officer Cole Brandon and Shenandoah County Sheriff's Deputy Hank Hoover with the VACP Award for Valor.
 
 

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