Seven Northwest Missourians were among those honored Monday in Jefferson City as Gov. Mike Parson awarded Missouri Public Safety Medals for heroic and live-saving actions in 2018.
Those honored from the area included a Missouri State Highway Patrol trooper who stopped a man who shot at him during a chase and six people involved in ending an inmate standoff at Crossroads Correctional Center in Cameron.
The awards are the state’s highest recognition for first responders working as individuals and as members of teams during critical incidents.
The Medal of Valor, Missouri’s highest award recognizing public safety officers who exhibit exceptional courage, extraordinary decisiveness and presence of mind and unusual swiftness of action in the attempt to save or protect human life, was awarded to Matthew W. Neely of the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s Troop H.
On March 19, 2018, Neely spotted the vehicle of a man and woman suspected in a residential theft in Ridgeway, Missouri. Before he could to stop the car, the driver crashed into a utility pole, and he and the passenger got out.
Neely informed the passenger she was under arrest and ordered her to remain with the vehicle, but the driver fled on foot. As Neely pursued the driver across an open field, the man turned and fired multiple shots at the trooper, who attempted to take cover as best he could.
Once the gunfire stopped, Neely radioed that shots had been fired and advanced on the gunman while telling him to drop his weapon. The gunman attempted to re-engage Neely, and the trooper fired several shots, striking the gunman twice. Neely and another trooper provided first aid until medical assistance arrived. The gunman survived.
The Governors Medal is awarded to a group of public safety officers in recognition of acts above and beyond the call of normal duty during a critical incident in which the collective performance of the group was essential to the successful resolution of the incident. Six people from the area were honored with that awards for their role in ending the inmate standoff at Crossroads Correctional Center: Cody B. Ross, Jason M. Huff, Cade A. Thompson and Andrew W. Fritzinger of Missouri Department of Corrections; Chief Richard W. Bashor of the Cameron Police Department; and Bradley R. Muck of the Missouri State Highway Patrol Troop H.
At 8 p.m. on May 12, 2018, approximately 209 offenders in two dining halls in Crossroads refused to leave and stated they were staging a protest. The corrections team notified all housing units to go on lockdown, which prevented an escalation to other areas of the facility. Conditions quickly deteriorated when offenders breached the kitchen area, obtained utensils and began vandalizing the kitchen. Offenders broke out windows and damaged doors and locks, allowing them to access unsecured areas of the facility.
Ross, Huff, Thompson and Fritzinger attempted to de-escalate the situation and then moved swiftly to evacuate staff members as the threat level increased. The corrections team deployed pepper spray and tear gas and secured doors. They helped evacuate and secure 131 surrendering offenders, containing inside the 78 holdouts. Because of their actions, no staff members were injured, and no offenders suffered serious injuries.
While en route to Crossroads, Bashor activated the Cameron Police Department’s tactical team and mobile command center. As more details developed, he requested and received back up, mustering more than 100 law enforcement officers. Operating from the incident command center, Bashor received the first phone contact from the offenders and played a critical leadership role throughout the incident.
Muck reported to the incident command center, where offenders had just made contact with Bashor by phone. Muck, who had only weeks before completed hostage negotiator training, established rapport over the phone with two unidentified offenders. Working through the night, he listened as the offenders shouted their complaints and continued to establish trust, ultimately getting the remaining offenders to return to a dining hall and peacefully end the disturbance.