Area first responders honored
From the Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce:
We joined together on August 23, 2023 so our regional business community could formally recognize and thank our First Responders for their immense sacrifices on our behalf. It’s reassuring to know that there are people who are dedicated to serving and protecting all of us in times of need. The Chamber’s 7th Annual First Responders Breakfast recognizes and honors the sacrifices and hard work of these individuals.
Deputy Attorney General Nicole Wittmann and Chief Deputy State Coordinator, Sean Polster were in attendance to share their gratitude from the state of Virginia and delivered heartfelt messages. In total the Chamber awarded 27 First Responders with awards for Heroism, Unit Citation and Merit.
The Heroism awards are identified in the categories of gold, silver, bronze, unit award, and merit award. The heroism award recipients have displayed bravery and heroism.
The Investigative awards are identified in the categories of excellence in criminal investigation, collaborative, merit award and “The business of first responding”.
And the Unit Citation award is given to a group of firefighters who have worked together to perform an act of bravery and heroism.
Excellence in Criminal Investigation
Sergeant Ben Sadler has earned the reputation of being a relentless investigator, who is always willing to go above and beyond, and always willing to help any officer with any case.
On November 20, 2022, Sergeant Sadler responded to an armed home invasion in a very rural area of Caroline County. The elderly victim reported being awoken by armed, masked men, beaten, drug around the home, then forced to open his safe. The suspects stole multiple firearms and cash before leaving the victim injured in his home.
The suspects were unknown to the victim and there were no immediate leads. Sergeant Sadler’s relentless investigation resulted in the development of a suspect vehicle. Sergeant Sadler then conducted over 40 hours of surveillance on this vehicle, which resulted in developing probable cause for a search warrant. The search warrant resulted in the recovery of several of the victim’s firearms, and other evidence linking the suspect to the home invasion. The suspect, who was registered as a violent gang member, and had an extensive criminal history, was arrested and is pending trial
After the primary suspect’s arrest, Sergeant Sadler also identified and arrested the second suspect. Sergeant Sadler’s incredible work ethic and care for his community solved this case
Unit Citation Award
Caroline County Units were dispatched to a motor vehicle accident involving a bus. On arrival, Sheriff’s Office units discovered a church bus with 17 occupants into a tree.
A total of 12 patients were transported by ground using five Caroline County Fire Rescue ambulances, one Ft. AP Hill Fire Department ambulance and a 13th was transported by Life Evac 1. Caroline County Public Schools provided a bus and driver to transported uninjured passengers to re-unite with family members in Chesapeake and at VCU Hospital. Throughout this incident fire rescue and law enforcement staff worked as a team to remove, evaluate, treat and transport patients. This was an all hands event that required the use of all staffed County resources as well as additional off duty personnel and volunteer staff that came in to assist.
Caroline County Fire Rescue Units– Capt. Brett Poffenberger, Ast. Chief Keith Buchanan, FF Sam Rowley, FF Jacob Geisenhof, FF Derrick Smith, FF David Brothers, Ast. Chief David Jenkins, Jr., FF David Puryear, EMT Dolores Heath, Lt. Ben Raines, FF Denver Bonham, Capt. Ed Bonham, FF Mike Huffman Lt. Vince Melton,FF Tommy Hall, Lt. Shon Daniels, FF Daniel Ferrell
Caroline County Sheriff’s Office Units- Sheriff Scott Moser, Major Travis Nutter, Capt. Stacy Cary, Lt. Chad Rozell, Deputy Brad Franklin, Sgt. Benjamin Doucet, Sgt. Chris Hall, Deputy Manuel Dip Deputy Maurice Clifton, Deputy Jason Elliot, Deputy Mathew Keeley, Deputy Bo Taylor, Deputy Dennis Taylor, Deputy Charles Ryan, Deputy Christopher Williams, Deputy Jesse Daily
Virginia State Police- Sgt. Quintin Kelly, Jr., Trooper Cody Carr-Olschewski, Trooper John Sullivan, Trooper Holly Thomas, Trooper Christopher Bingham
Life Evac 1-Willard Hicks, Joseph Albright, Kevin Kissner
Caroline County Public Schools- Eric Childs
Heroism Gold Award
On October 24th 2022 Fredericksburg Fire Department personnel were dispatched to a reported Motor Vehicle Accident with injury. Information was updated to indicate persons were trapped in the vehicle, with possible ejection and the vehicle on fire. This incident began as a robbery at a local convenience store in Spotsylvania County, and while attempting to evade law enforcement the accident ensued.
Personnel acted as an effective and skilled team to accomplish the best for those involved in this incident. Regardless of the circumstances presented to the team upon arrival they went right to work critically thinking through each step of the process. Generating and executing plans quickly to ensure care for those involved were effected as quickly as possible. Without the dedication, expertise, and motivation of the personnel on scene the outcome could have been much worse.
A-Shift personnel, and the units Battalion 1, Engine 1, Tower 1, Medic 1, and Medic 2. Additional ambulance resources were provided from our Mutual Aid partners and personnel to aid A-Shift in extrication and transport efforts.
- Battalion 1- Battalion Chief Brandon Bass
- Engine 1- Robert Hensel, Firefighter Cody Sheler, Firefighter/Medic Matt Parrotte, and Firefighter Jonathon Mann
- Tower 1- Branden Robey, Firefighter Justin Newton, and Firefighter/Medic Tim Carter
- Medic 1- Firefighter/Medic Bradley Gray and Firefighter/Medic Jeff Payne
- Medic 2 – Firefighter Jacob Miller, Firefighter/Medic Shawn Kowakowski, and Firefighter/Medic Matt Tanner
Unit Citation Award
On Wednesday June 22, 2022, the Fredericksburg area and in particular the City of Fredericksburg suffered from the effects of a severe thunderstorm. Beginning slightly before 3pm, the City was buffeted by torrential rain, high winds and dangerous lightning. All Fredericksburg Fire Department units were out all over the city handling numerous calls for service related to trees down, power lines down, transformer fires and automobile accidents.
A large sized tree had crashed down on the sidewalk and trapped and pinned three women underneath it. The women had been huddled in the doorway of 800 Sophia St. trying to get protection from the storm. After about 10 minutes of work the crews were able to access the three women and determine they had no major injuries. Each person was escorted by a firefighter out from under the tree through a small tunnel made through the branches to safety.
The teams worked well together and were very efficient and effective in making the rescue of these individuals. The action plan was well thought out and worked extremely well. This also involved monitoring the tree itself as removal of each branch changed the weight of tree and how it interacted with other parts that would potentially cause it to collapse further.
Without the dedication, expertise and motivation of our fire crews the results could have been very different.
B-shift personnel and the units of Battalion 1, Tower 1, and Engine 2.
- Battalion 1 – Captain Robert Belman
- Engine 2 – Master Technician Johns, Master Technician Martin, Fire Technician II McDonnel
- Tower 1 – Lt. Sanford, Fire Technician I Weinmann, Fire Technician I Macias
The Fredericksburg Police Department and Stafford County Sheriff’s Office were inundated with false 911 calls between April and September 2022. The subject of the phone calls, made with artificial or “ro-bo” voices, was challenging to trace. The caller claimed reports of an active shooter and bomb threats, amongst other mass emergencies. As time passed and similar reports were made, they were believed to be connected, but Law Enforcement has to treat every report as authentic. A collaborative investigation between Detectives of the Fredericksburg Police Department and Stafford County Sheriff’s Office, requiring extensive research over a period of time, revealed the human behind the robot voice. The appropriate warrants were obtained, an arrest was made, and a confession was obtained from the culprit. Solving this case brought the community to rest.
Lieutenant Benjamin Johnson, Detective Joshua Lynch, Detective Brandon Talbot
The Business of First Responding
The term “Active Shooter” is one we hear far too often. It is a term we don’t even want our children to know exists, yet it has become our reality. When safety and preparation are prioritized, learning can remain the focus. Central Office staff worked closely with the Fredericksburg Police Department to update and enhance emergency response plans. These plans were reviewed not only by law enforcement experts but by the Fire Department as well. Safety meetings occur monthly regarding current events, trainings, safety summits for families, and more. Several things have resulted from these meetings:
- Grant application for Avigilon Concealed Weapons Detection Units in all City Schools
- Securing grants for additional SROs
- New protocol for after-school events
- Installation of breaching kits inside each school at the front of the building
- Installation of a “Knox Box” outside each school at the front of the building
- Provided 911 Center, SROs, and the supervisor the ability to access school cameras
- Ensuring all LE have electronic badge access to each school
- Updated digital mapping system of all school buildings
- Schools Admin attending PD quarterly ICS training
- Active Shooter training in all schools
Lieutenant Aimee Lynch, Lieutenant Jason Pitts, Detective Melanie Boyle, Officer Uyurre Brown-Kaleopaa, Officer Christopher Florio, Angela “Angie” Roenke
Heroism Gold Award
On December 18, 200 Deputy Steven Kellam was dispatched a shooting. A 40-year-old subject was shot in the leg in a reported hunting accident.
The victim was deep in the woods in an area that was very difficult to access. Deputy Kellam was one of the firt to arrive and quickly applied his own tourniquet to stop the blood loss. Deputy Kellam then kept the victim calm for almost ten minutes until EMS arrived. There is no doubt that the outcome for this patient would have been very different if not for the immediate lifesaving actions of the deputy.
Heroism Gold Award
On the evening of June 24th, 2023, at 2128 Deputy Tully was dispatched to a motor vehicle crash on Windsor Drive in King George Va. Further information provided was that the vehicle was on fire. Deputy Tully was first on scene to an enclosed car trailer that was engulfed by fire. Deputy Tully then advised that there were more vehicles involved and there were people lying on the roadway, with one being seriously injured. Deputy Tully rendered immediate aid to the critically injured driver of one of the vehicles involved. With his training and experience Deputy Tully applied two tourniquets to the injured. That patient was air lifted by med flight and still alive. Deputy Tully’s assessment of the patient and his immediate treatment had a direct result in that patient surviving. (Deputy Tully was unable to attend the award ceremony therefore there is no photo).
Heroism Gold Award
Master Deputy Jeffries responded to a structure fire on Noel Drive. Upon his arrival, he observed smoke coming from the home. There was a female in the basement who could not confirm whether or not anyone else was in the home. Master Deputy Jeffires was able to enter the home and search quickly for additonal occupants, none were located. Master Deputy Jeffries was able put the fire out with a blanket and water. With his quick thinking he was able to access the situation and handle the fire without jeopardizing his own safety or safety of anyone else involved. In speaking with fire crews that arrived, his quick thinking and actions of extinguishing this fire, the home was saved from more severe damage that would have occurred.
On January 24, 2023, Deputy First Class Tim Murphy was performing his assigned duties as a School Resource Officer at Massaponax High School in Spotsylvania County when he was called, by radio, to respond to the Office of the school by a member of the Admin team. He immediately noticed a tall, young man, who had all of his face covered except for a small area around his eyes. The young man, was looking intently out of the office through the glass and seemed to be watching the students out in the lunch area. DFC Murphy asked several staff members who he was but no one could tell him.
DFC Murphy was becoming more and more suspicious of Ronald as he continued to make every effort to keep his face covered and concealed. DFC Murphy walked Ronald out to the parking lot and told him not to return. Several minutes laster Ronald did return and was told he would be arressted if he did not comply.
Ronald’s car was searched after he ran and several weapons and drugs were located, Ronald was charged criminally for other offenses.
DFC Murphy also had the school go into lockdown to limit the movement of staff and students.
Heroism Gold Award
On the night of March 11, 2023 Firefighter Jarred Mannucci and Technician Michael Evans where dispatched to a motor vehicle crash, while assigned to medic 5-2 for the shift.
Medic 5-2 arrived on scene of the mvc and found one car on fire with people trapped. Medic 5 driver (Mannucci) grabbed a water can and a dry chemical extinguisher, he then proceeded to start attacking the fire in an attempt to control and provide protection from the heat and flames, while Firefighter Evans proceeded to start removing victims from the wreckage. Both men were acting without the aid of a suppression piece. Using only one 2.5 gallon water can and a 10lb Dry chemical extinguisher these two men went above and beyond the call of duty to save the citizens of Spotsylvania involved in this terrible crash. Using only the limited resources they had and sheer determination to save the citizens. They were able to successfully remove all the victims without anyone being burned.
Heroism Gold Award
On the afternoon of November 21st, 2022, units were dispatched for a motor vehicle accident with 1 person trapped. Units arrived on the scene to find a vehicle, on it’s side, wrapped around a tree, with an occupant trapped inside. Multiple Crews worked to lower the vehicle, and complete the extrication of a victim with life-threatening injuries. Crews worked to stablize the victim for transfer to a medical helicopter, and continued to assist the flight crew with advanced treatment, prior to departure to the trauma center. The coordination and teamwork of all units on the scene, while performing an extraordinary extrication, led to the positive clinical outcome for the patient.
Technician Michael Evans
Ambulance 8-2-Transport Ambulance
Technician Brian McPherson
EMS 1- Patient care supervisor Captain David Flint
Rescue Engine 8 – Rescue Group Lieutenant Taylor Haynie, Technician Enos Martin, Firefighter Anthony Freeza
Rescue 4 – Rescue Group
Lieutenant Chris McIntosh, Technician Travis Staples, Technician II Nick Haynes
Heroism Gold Award
On March 27, 2022 the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office began receiving calls of a shooting inside a residence. Sergeant Adam Assur and First Sergeant Jason Kreider were first on the scene and began to attempt to locate the suspect. Once the suspect was located he threw his gun and feigned compliance before charging Sergeant Assur. The Sergeant deployed his Taser with little impact to the suspect and a fight ensued. First Sergeant Kreider ran into the fight and tackled the suspect with enough force to take him to the ground and handcuff him.
A scene that had all the markings for a fatal outcome was rendered safe by the sheer will, tenacity and courageous efforts of Sergeant Assur and First Sergeant Kreider. Their efforts saved the lives of others and embodied one of the Sheriff’s Office core values, “Compassion”