25 awarded police commendations

Police Sgt. James Carroll has seen many things during his 22 years with the Metropolitan Police Department.

But on July 15, he experienced a first: a suspect shot at him.

On Thursday, Carroll said he was grateful to be alive . He said he hopes it’s the last time bullets whiz by him.

“You don’t think about it when it happens,” Carroll said. “You’re just glad you and your officers make it out of there.”

Carroll and officers Stephen Ayres and Coleman Oswald were rewarded for exemplary work in the domestic disturbance incident at the department’s commendation ceremony at City Hall.

In total, 25 department personnel were recognized by Sheriff Doug Gillespie in front of colleagues, family and friends.

In the incident in July, a woman called 911 about 10 p.m. and said her ex-boyfriend was armed with a handgun outside her home at 3908 Applecrest St., near Alexander Road and Rancho Drive, police said.

The suspect, 27-year-old Jason Vanbuskirk, fired at the officers — Carroll, Coleman and Oswald — when they arrived, police said. The officers returned fire , Gillespie said.

Gillespie said that at one point, Vanbuskirk began firing at a civilian on a scooter. That’s when Carroll diverted Vanbuskirk’s attention, which caused him to shoot at Carroll. Carroll ended the incident by striking Vanbuskirk with a shotgun slug, Gillespie said.

Vanbuskirk survived his injuries, but no bystanders or officers were hurt in the gunfight.

“If that’s not an extraordinary act of heroism, and above and beyond the call of duty, I don’t know what is,” Gillespie said.

Carroll, Ayres and Oswald were given Medals of Valor for their efforts.

In a second incident detailed by Gillespie, a toddler’s life was saved by a quick-acting officer.

On July 28, Gillespie said officer Al Gibson was on patrol in Indian Springs when he heard a call about a baby in distress.

Gibson responded and found a baby girl on a kitchen floor vomiting and having seizures.

He turned the baby over on her side so she wouldn’t choke. When paramedics arrived, he was on the ground in a pool of vomit administering first aid, Gillespie said.

The toddler was airlifted to a hospital. Several days later, police were told the baby would recover fully from its bout with heat stroke and dehydration.

Gillespie presented Gibson with the Lifesaving Award.

He ended the event by thanking all department employees.

“You should be very proud of yourselves, not just today, but each and every day that you’re out there doing the job,” he said.

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