Valor Award 1980-1989

 

TROOPER MICHAEL LEDERHAUSE
May 22, 1980

Trooper Lederhause stopped a suspected stolen vehicle westbound on Interstate 70, around midnight. The driver started to exit the car with a .44 magnum which he aimed at Lederhause. Lederhause lunged at the driver at knocked him off balance. The subject staggered into the right traffic lane, regained his balance, and again aimed the weapon at Lederhause. By this point Lederhause had already drawn his weapon and then fired four shots which disabled the armed suspect. The suspect was wanted on a felony warrant. Two hitchhikers in the car had $1000 in stolen travelers checks on their persons.

 


 


TROOPER JOHN M. TRAMMEL
October 10, 1980


Trooper Trammel set up a roadblock northbound on Interstate 25 when alerted by New Mexico State Police of two bank robbers armed with a pistol and a sawed-off shotgun. When the suspect vehicle refused to stop and proceeded north at a high speed. Trammel began pursuit. The suspect’s vehicle ran off Interstate 25 and collided with a fence and a rock wall. One suspect came out of the car firing at Trammel while the other disengaged the vehicle from the fence and prepared to flee toward a heavily populated area. Trammel returned fire with a shotgun, killing the two highly dangerous fugitives.

 

 


TROOPER CONRAD FISHER
November 14, 1981


Trooper Fisher investigated an accident in which eight people were killed when two trucks, one a gasoline tanker, collided 18 miles west of Canon City on Colorado 50. Burning fuel quickly spread over a large area. Over 100 yards of highway and 300 yards of mountainside were covered with liquid fire. Fisher ran through the flames checking for injuries and fatalities. He obtained immediate transportation for the injured and attempted to rescue people injured in the fire and explosion. His extreme exposure to the flames was evident by the burnt markings on his pants and boots and by eyewitness accounts.

 

 


TROOPER DONALD A. VIGIL
March 20, 1982


A gunman fired shots and had taken hostages at a Blende grocery store, and the sheriff’s department had called for assistance. The suspect could be clearly seen holding an automatic pistol to the head of the check-out clerk. Trooper Vigil was stationed at the rear of the door along with another trooper as protection for the sheriff’s officers who had crept into the store. The gunman ignored numerous shouts to surrender and walked out the front door towards Vigil’s station. When the gunman was within 15 feet of Vigil, he raised his weapon. Just then the sheriff stepped from the door and fired two shots at the suspect. Vigil heard the gunshots and saw the gunman’s weapon pointed at him and the other trooper. Vigil fired one shot, mortally wounding the suspect.

 


LIEUTENANT WALTER D. SANBURG
March 28, 1982


Lieutenant Sanburg received a call from dispatch, shortly before midnight, reporting a berserk gunman. The gunman had shot two Durango police officers, wounded one local resident, and killed another. At the scene, Sanburg rescued the wounded Durango police officer and the Durango resident with the aid of an ambulance attendant, while under the threat of the gunman’s fire. After the sniper escaped into the darkness, Sanburg helped trail him through the mountains. The suspect esaped that evening but was arrested four days later near Pagosa Springs. If not for the actions of Sanburg, the wounded officer and civilian would have probably died of their injuries.

 

 


TROOPER GARY GORDON
April 26, 1986


Trooper Gordon was patrolling south of Colorado Springs on Interstate 25 when he saw a Toyota pickup southbound in the northbound lanes. He caught up to it just as the pickup struck a bridge guardrail. A portion of the guardrail penetrated the pickup, and it immediately caught fire. Both doors were jammed in with the driver trapped inside. Smoke was pouring into the driver’s compartment and flames were shooting out from underneath the pickup. Gordon finally jerked the passenger door hard enough to get his fingers inside the top door jam. He then broke the passenger window and physically bent the door frame down. He pulled the driver out of the pickup and carried him to safety just as the truck became completely engulfed in flames and was totally destroyed.

 


TROOPER BRUCE SHEETZ
June 17, 1986


Trooper Sheetz was boating with some friends at the Blue Mesa reservoir when a thunderstorm approached. As they docked, they saw a fishing boat capsize in the storm. The thunderstorm was in full force as Sheetz maneuvered his boat next to the capsized boat and tied a rope to it to tow the boat to shore. After an unsuccessful attempt, Sheetz positioned his boat next to the fishing boat, and they pulled an elderly couple into Sheetz’ boat. The couple was taken to shore. Sheetz was unable to restart his boat and decided to swim back out to the capsized boat to rescue the second couple. He stabilized the couple while another man took a rope tied to the boat and pulled it to shore.

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TROOPER JAMES MACHESKY
TROOPER TOBY TAYLOR
TROOPER SHERMAN KENNELL
August 1, 1986


Trooper Don Sheppard and Trooper Joe Martinez were patrolling in separate vehicles when Sheppard called Martinez and advised him he was going to stop a vehicle for weaving north of Dolores. Trooper Martinez responded for backup. Sheppard pulled the car over and spotted the barrel and stock of a shotgun as the driver exited the vehicle. Sheppard ran back to Martinez’s Patrol car as the driver fired a round at the windshield of Sheppard’s car. The driver then sped off southbound with the two officers in pursuit. The suspect then entered Dolores and stopped while Troopers Machesky, Taylor and Kennell responded. The suspect fired at Taylor, striking the Patrol car’s grill, hood and driver’s side spotlight. Simultaneously, the Troopers began firing. As the suspect slumped over in the front seat of his vehicles, the firing then stopped. The autopsy showed a blood alcohol content of .24.


TROOPER DAVID HARPER
December 30, 1986


Trooper Sam Mitchell stopped a vehicle described in a REDDI (Report Every Drunken Driver Immediately) report, southbound on Colorado 199. A male exited the vehicle with a shotgun alongside his leg. Mitchell ordered the subject to drop his weapon, but the suspect got back into his vehicle and headed west on Interstate 70. Near the Loveland Basin Ski entrance, the suspect stopped and as immediately blocked in by Patrol cars. The suspect exited and approached Mitchell who had taken cover behind his Patrol car. Mitchell could not fire because of the people in his line of fire. The suspect then turned and walked a few steps toward Trooper Harper. The suspect then raised his shotgun and pointed it at Harper and several of the skiers behind him. Harper, having a clear path, fired one round, ending the situation.

 


TROOPER JAMES HARPER
March 13, 1987


Two men overpowered a jailer from the Tiera Amarilla jail, beat him severely, and then escaped. Trooper Harper caught up with them three miles south of La Jara. One mile north of La Jara, the passenger aimed a rifle at Harper, who then swerved his Patrol car side to side and lowered himself to throw off the suspect’s aim. Two miles south of Estrella, Harper saw a cloud of smoke and observed the car driving on the shoulder and into the brush. One suspect partially raised himself and advanced towards Harper with the rifle pointed at him. Harper twice ordered the suspect to drop the rifle and surrender. His response was to advance towards Harper, still pointing the rifle. The third time the suspect’s rifle barrel came up, Harper fired one round and the suspect fell near the front of the stolen vehicle. The suspect died at the scene.


TROOPER JOE COPLEY
April 11, 1988


A wanted felon from Washington was spotted by Sterling Police officers, initiating a pursuit that also involved Trooper Copley. As the pursuit continued toward the town of Sterling, it became obvious the car was not going to stop. The street they were on had a sharp right hand curve with a grade school on the left. At the time of the pursuit, the school playground was filled with children. Trooper Copley decided to do a moving roadblock by overtaking the car at 97 MPH and then blocking its path. The suspect tried twice to move to the left, the second time striking a raised median and then colliding with the Patrol car. The Patrol car went out of control and into a ditch. The fleeing vehicle continued on for 750 feet, went across the median, across two opposing lanes, rolled one time stopping in an irrigation ditch. The suspect later died as a result of their injuries, while the passenger was not seriously injured and was placed into custody.


TROOPER FRITS BOSS
May 5, 1988


Trooper Boss was leaving a gas station and was told by several children that there was a knife fight in progress in a nearby parking lot. He pulled into the parking lot and observed several juveniles around a white van. As he got out of his vehicle and approached the van he was told a suspect was inside. He then entered the cargo door of the van and ordered the suspect to drop the knife in his left hand. The suspect turned and attempted to start the van with his right hand, then pivoted in his seat and attempted to cut Boss with the knife. Boss was finally able to grab the suspect’s left hand and take the knife away. Boss received a laceration to his left hand.