Gov. Schwarzenegger Awards Three LBPD Officers Medal of Valor
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(June 24, 2004) -- Describing three LB Police Officers as the "bravest of the brave," CA Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has awarded LBPD Officers Brad Milovich, Karen Crawford and William Johnston the Governor's first annual Public Safety Medal of Valor for their heroism in stopping a deranged gunman at the TopValu market on Pacific Ave. in 2002.
In a horrifying event still vividly recalled by many, Officers Milovich, Crawford and Johnston put themselves in peril to prevent further loss of life after a man opened fire on people in the neighborhood market, killing an eight year old girl and wounding four other victims who included the girl's parents.
In remarks at the June 23 Medal of Valor ceremony in Sacramento, Gov. Schwarzenegger said in part:
[W]e have heroes here. And of course I love historic and heroic acts, and this is something that we are celebrating here today. And this is why I'm so proud to be here, to honor officer with the first annual Governor's Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor.
Now, this is of course an honor recognizing the bravest of the brave -- this is what you call the bravest of the brave -- in our public safety professions, law enforcement, firefighter and emergency services.
You know, it has been said that the most important virtue is courage; and without it, you don't have the strength to exercise any virtue. And this is exactly true, because this is exactly what you all exemplify here.
And when you think about what they have done -- on May 30th, 2002, when a crazy man went with a gun into a store, into a market, and he started shooting, shooting at anything and everything that moved, killed three people, including an eight year old child. And this is when the action began, when these men jumped into action.
They went in there and dove into the crossfire, and even though they knew they were risking getting shot, risking that they could get killed, all of that meant nothing. What meant something to them -- what meant everything to them -- was to save those people that were still held at gunpoint. And this is where they did this extraordinary work. They saved those people in there. They tended to the wounded, and they terminated the shooter.
And so, that is an act of heroism. And I first want to say that not only does it show how great these officers are, but it also shows -- and I think this is why I want to mention it to their families -- because you don't create people like that, just bang, and it's magic. I know what it took for my parents to help me, to educate me, and to bring me up, even though I was a rebel and I was fighting against all those things they were saying. But they disciplined, they moved me forward, and they got me set in a direction.
So, I know there are a lot of the parents here today of these officers. I just want to say to you, congratulations, because you have created these men here. So, my hat off to you. A big hand here to the parents.
Now, when we talk about heroes, you know, there are many kinds of heroes. And I think that in civilization, in our whole history, we have always admired heroes, always read books about it. There are magazine articles coming out, stories left and right, movies about heroes. And a lot of times we read about people who do heroic acts, climbing the highest mountain, or going in a little boat around the world and risking their lives, or going with the fastest car in the world and risking their lives.
But this is different, because they are just risking their lives -- which is also heroic in a way -- but this is different heroism because these men here risked their lives to save other people's lives. That is true heroism, and these are the kinds of people that movies are made of and about.
And I have to tell you, I know a lot about movies. You know, I have been in the crossfire and I have been blown up many times and fought terrorists and did all kinds of actions, fought Danny DeVito and the devil and all kinds of things. But this was the screen. This was the screen, this was the movies, this was make-believe. This is a real live hero. Those are the real live heroes, and so this is what I -- a big hand for them.
This is why it is for me such a great honor to present those officers, Milovich, Crawford and Johnston, with the Governor's Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor here today. And I just want to say to all three of you, congratulations, not only from me as governor, but also Arnold is saying congratulations, and I say it for the rest of this state. Everyone admires this kind of work that you're doing, so keep going on with the good work, serve the people, and we want to thank you very much.
Now, let's hand out the medals, present the medals. And I want to just say quickly what it says on the medal. It says:
"In recognition for the extraordinary valor above and beyond the call of duty, and for the exceptional service and the steadfast devotion to protect the people of California and for your act of bravery."
A big hand again to all of you.
Let's have first Officer Milovich come up. Officer Johnston, please? Officer Crawford, please?
So, thank you very much for being here today with all of us, and I hope that this great act of heroism rubs off upstairs with the legislators now. Thank you very much, thank you.
As reported by LBReport.com at the time, LBPD described in police verbiage what took place in the neighborhood market in the shadow of City Hall and Pine Ave:
"When officers arrived, they heard gunfire coming from within the store. They immediately entered the store, observed that the armed suspect had shot several victims, and took immediate action to stop him. Officers fearing for their safety, and the safety of employees and patrons, fired at the suspect striking him several times."
Among the shooting victims were the parents of the fatally-wounded eight year old girl.
And in a subsequent revelation reminiscent of an Alfred Hitchcock movie, LBPD discovered two badly decomposed bodies in the gunman's bedroom.
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