BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Louisiana State Police honored heroes from across the state Tuesday at a ceremony, including troopers who were first responders at the Lafayette theater shootings in July 2015.
Former Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft was there as Trooper Matthew Moats and Trooper Richard Watson were honored for being first and rushing into the Lafayette theater after the shootings and saving lives.
"To see them be honored for what they did, and as I said today, honored for their courage and their bravery, was just beyond compare," Craft said.
Craft took a job in Baton Rouge earlier this year as Gov. John Bel Edwards' executive director of the Louisiana Commission on law enforcement. He was with the Lafayette Police Department for 39 years.
"Each day our Troopers perform tasks above and beyond the normal scope of their duty as we remain dedicated to public safety in Louisiana," said Col. Mike Edmonson. "Today, we were honored to recognize many of those extraordinary accomplishments along with the heroic and selfless acts of Good Samaritans and fellow law enforcement partners from across the state."
The following awards were presented at the ceremony:
Medal of Valor – Awarded for selfless service at the risk of the officer's or citizen's life while having full knowledge of that risk. The act must be clearly above and beyond the call of duty.
Senior Technician Steven Paulus (Emergency Services Unit): For selfless service at the risk of his own life with regard to his actions on the Causeway Bridge in February 2016, while he was able to pull a driver and passenger from a burning vehicle.
Lifesaving Award – Awarded for any act which saves or sustains the life of another.
Sgt. Willie Verret (Troop C): For heroic actions on February 15, 2015, where he saved a man from choking by performing the Heimlich maneuver at his neighbor's residence.
Lt. Jody Blanchard, S/T Keith Redmond, and TPR Jarrod Miles (Troop C): For heroic actions taken on April 16, 2015, when they arrived on a crash scene involving a submerged vehicle and were able to locate the driver in the back seat of the vehicle and pull him to medical personnel.
TPR Matthew Motes (Troop I): For heroic actions taken on July 23, 2015, as he responded to an active shooter inside of the Grand 16 Theatre in Lafayette and immediately began assessing the wounded, applying pressure to wounds and plugging fingers into bullet holes to control the bleeding of several gunshot victims.
Mr. Jason Tauzin, Kristopher Louvierre, and Chance Negroni (Civilian): For heroic actions on December 21, 2015, on Interstate 210 when they observed a crash and were able to pull a young woman trapped inside the burning vehicle to safety.
Service Injury Ribbon – Awarded to an individual that incurred significant injuries through no fault of their own while acting within the scope of official duty.
TFC Derek Cormier (Troop D): For receiving injuries on May 25, 2015, while working a crash on I-210 when an impaired driver disregarded emergency vehicles and struck the rear of TFC Cormier's unit pinning him in-between his unit and the disabled vehicle.
Uniformed Trooper of the Year – Awarded to an individual who has demonstrated unusual skill and ability in performing his or her duties both on and off of the job.
TFC Joey Nations (Troop A) - Trooper Nations has been employed with LSP since 2008 and has spent his entire career at Troop A in Baton Rouge. In 2015, some of Trooper Nations accomplishments include:
- TFC Nations assisted the Jackson Police Department with the apprehension of an armed suspect that had been holding a child hostage in a residence. The suspect fled the residence on foot and was apprehended by TFC Nations after a short search of the surrounding area, eliminating any threat to the child.
- TFC Nations assisted the East Feliciana Sheriff’s Office with an armed subject. He was able to talk the suspect into placing the weapon on the ground and ensure that no one was injured or killed by the armed suspect.
- In July, TFC Nations investigated a fatal crash where a female occupant was ejected and killed. Another male occupant stated that he was the passenger and the female was the driver. Further investigation led to crucial evidence and the arrest of the male subject as the intoxicated driver.
- In November, TFC Nations responded to a residential burglary in progress nearby. TFC Nations was the first to arrive and made entry into the house due to the female homeowner being alone and in danger. He located the female, ensured she was safe, and then located the burglary suspect.
The following nominees for the Uniformed Trooper of the Year Award each received a Meritorious Service Certificate:
- TFC Matthew Montgomery (Troop B)
- TFC Christopher Bryan (Troop C)
- TFC Brett McKee (Troop D)
- S/T Daniel Cedars (Troop E)
- TFC Justin Stephenson (Troop F)
- S/T Talmadge Dixon (Troop L)
- Senior Tech Jimmy Hardy (TESS/ESU)
- S/T Jarrett Dodson (TESS/MCSAP)
Plainclothes Trooper of the Year – Awarded to individuals who have demonstrated unusual skill and ability in performing his or her duties both on and off of the job.
TFC Gus Bethea (Criminal Investigations Division Region I) - TFC Gustave Bethea began his career with LSP in 2008 and has worked as a LSP Detective since 2013. In 2015, some of Trooper Bethea's accomplishments include:
- TFC Bethea was the case agent on a shooting incident involving three officers that were shot at while conducting surveillance. Trooper Bethea was able to link this incident to other related crimes and identify a street gang which led to a large operation executing 7 search warrants with 12 arrests and the recovery of 10 firearms, narcotics, two stolen vehicles, and approximately 40 cell phones.
- TFC Bethea was also the case agent on a kidnapping/homicide investigation. Bethea identified the victim’s boyfriend as a suspect, located evidence, and obtained an arrest warrant that led him to travel to the Dallas, TX area. While at the Dallas PD Headquarters, an armed suspect began firing at the building and setting off explosives in the parking lot. TFC Bethea was instrumental in coordinating with Dallas PD and assisting to clear the building of an active shooter threat ensuring the safety of several civilians.
Department of Public Safety Officer of the Year – Awarded to individuals who have demonstrated unusual skill and ability in performing his or her duties both on and off of the job.
Investigator Anthony Pardo (Criminal Investigations Division Region 2) - Investigator Pardo began his career with the Department of Public Safety in November of 2014 and was assigned to Region 2 Detectives as a DPS Investigator. Before joining the ranks of DPS, he was a 16 year veteran with the New Orleans Police Department Homicide Unit.
- In January 2015, Investigator Pardo began working with a task force to address the increased violent crimes occurring within the city of Abbeville. Due to his investigative work, a group identified as “The Gremlin Gang” was determined to be responsible for many of the crimes in that jurisdiction. As the result of Investigator Pardo’s dedicated efforts, his tireless commitment, and his spirit of cooperation with other law enforcement agencies, in December of 2015 a state grand jury returned an 18 count indictment on 17 suspects and an auto sale business.
- During the 12 month long investigation, Investigator Pardo also investigated and participated in several Officer Involved Shootings and other investigations.
Officer Louis Thompson (DPS-Physical Security) was nominated for the Department of Public Safety Officer of the Year Award and received a Meritorious Service Certificate
Richard Honeycutt Award – Awarded for outstanding service and dedication to duty by a Communications Officer.
Communications Supervisor Adria Bertrand (Troop D) - Mrs. Bertrand has been working for Louisiana State Police Troop D as a dispatcher since October 2001 and has been tasked with helping organize regional dispatch for Region 2. Mrs. Bertrand has spent many hours around the state meeting with other dispatchers and supervisors helping to prepare dispatch policies and procedures for the entire region focusing on the safety of personnel. Mrs. Bertrand was instrumental after the death of ST Steven Vincent including preparations for the funeral and filling a crucial role in ST Vincent's last call.
The following nominees for the Richard Honeycutt Award each received a Meritorious Service Certificate:
- Communications Officer 3, Eloise Thompson
- Communications Officer 2, Tawanda Brown
Blue Max Award - This award is given to the trooper who has recovered the most stolen vehicles with arrests in a 12 month period.
Sgt. Kevin Curlee (French Quarter Public Safety Operation): Sgt. Curlee made 16 recoveries of stolen vehicles with apprehensions within a 10 month period.
Meritorious Service Award – Awarded for performance of duty that exceeds the normal expectations of duty and demonstrates an exceptional degree of good judgment, initiative, and competence.
TFC Richard Watson and TPR Matthew Motes (Troop I): For performance of duty exceeding normal expectations on July 23, 2015 when they were the first Troopers on scene of a shooting at the Grand Theatre in Lafayette. They were able to provide help assessing the situation and also provided first aid to the wounded.
Officer Louis Thompson (DPS -Physical Security): For performance of duty exceeding normal expectations on March 6, 2015 by apprehending an armed gunman at the EXXON plant on U.S. 61 after seeing the subject trying to carjack vehicles.
Sgt. Chad Guidry and S/T Ryan Zimmerman (French Quarter Public Safety Operation): For performance of duty exceeding normal expectations on March 31, 2015 by making two separate felony arrests in New Orleans and seizing several thousand dollars in cash, illegal narcotics, and a firearm.
TFC Valentine Emery, TFC Paul Charles, and TPR Joseph Patane (Troop B): For performance of duty exceeding normal expectations on December 31, 2015 while investigating a crash. Upon the driver fleeing on foot, Troopers were able to locate the driver along with two more suspects, one of which was wanted for murder in New Orleans.
TFC Timothy Ledet (Troop E): For performance of duty exceeding normal expectations on January 15, 2015 by saving a woman's life during a SWAT operation in which the suspect was firing at Troopers.
TFC Russell Brue and TFC Lance Bush (BOI/Gaming): For performance of duty exceeding normal expectations by arresting 15 subjects over several months for Racketeering in reference to fraudulent credit cards being used at Harrah's Casino in New Orleans.
Chief Petty Officer Keith Watters and Lt Jonathan Scott (United States Coast Guard): For performance of duty exceeding normal expectations on September 10, 2015 by diverting traffic around a stalled vehicle on I-10 that was blocking the roadway in the opposing lanes. Their efforts to warn drivers and move the stalled vehicle helped to prevent a serious incident.
Sgt. Kevin Curlee, S/T Calvin Anderson, and TPR Thomas Bellue (French Quarter Public Safety Operation): For performance of duty exceeding normal expectations on May 6, 2015 after a short pursuit with a carjacked vehicle leading to the apprehension of all four suspects.
Lt. John Gardner and Sgt. Paul Chamorro (French Quarter Public Safety Operation): For performance of duty exceeding normal expectations on May 16, 2015 by breaking up a fight in which the suspect had fired shots and struck the other party involved with the weapon.
M/T Michael Wolfe and TFC Monty Montelongo (French Quarter Public Safety Operation): For performance of duty exceeding normal expectations during a criminal enforcement detail in 2015 where the two Troopers were able to successfully recover 25 stolen vehicles with apprehensions.
TFC Brett McKee, TPR Keith Bertrand, TPR Jacob Brown, and TPR Jerry Cox (French Quarter Public Safety Operation): For performance of duty exceeding normal expectations by apprehending three subjects that fled in opposite directions in the French Quarter. Two of the suspects were carrying illegally possessed firearms.
Sgt. Brad Guidroz and S/T Paul Dubois (Criminal Investigations Division Region 2): For performance of duty exceeding normal expectations by pursuing, apprehending, and bringing to justice a violent group of criminals identified as "The Gremlin Gang."
Mr. Matt Boudreaux (LSP Training Academy): For performance of duty exceeding normal expectations by updating the visual and audio equipment at the LSP Training Academy as well as helping with numerous Public Affairs projects.