by Devin Thomas

On May 23, eight Santa Barbara police officers were awarded the H. Thomas Guerry Award for Valor in recognition of their exceptional bravery and skill in the field. Sr. Deputy Clayton Turner, Deputy Michael Harris, Deputy Jonathon Jenkins, Deputy Kenneth Rushing, and Deputy Christopher Gotschall — who comprise Goleta Patrol Squad D — were recognized for their response to late January’s tragic postal service shootings. Squad D was the first to arrive on the scene, where officers located three victims in the parking lot. With the shooter still at large, the squad charged inside the building and located a victim who had been shot in the head, yet was miraculously still alive. Police protected the victim until backup arrived, and the SWAT Team confirmed that the shooter had fatally turned the gun on herself.

Officers James Ella, Darin Biamonte, and Larry Larson were recognized for their heroic response to the tragic violence of April 24, 2005, when the officers received a complaint about a disturbance on Haley Street. There they found a 28-year-old resident in a wild rage induced by crystal meth, threatening his father with a knife and torch. The knifeman ignored pleas and pepper spray, instead lashing out and screaming threats at the officers. In the end, Officer Ella was forced to shoot and mortally wounded the suspect when he rushed at police with the knife.

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