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Sheriff Awards Medals of Valor to First Responders of Isla Vista Shooting Rampage

Santa Barbara County, UCSB law enforcement officers and dispatchers are recognized for their work to help stop Elliot Rodger in May 2014

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown, right, awards the department’s Medal of Valor to responders of the Isla Vista shootings during a ceremony held Wednesday. From left are Deputies Adrien Marquez, Brian Flick, Jorden Walker and Wayne Johnson and Sgt. Brad Welch.
Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown, right, awards the department’s Medal of Valor to responders of the Isla Vista shootings during a ceremony held Wednesday. From left are Deputies Adrien Marquez, Brian Flick, Jorden Walker and Wayne Johnson and Sgt. Brad Welch. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

It's been almost a year since the tragic murders of six UC Santa Barbara students in Isla Vista, and on Wednesday, the law enforcement community commended the first responders who ran toward the bullets flying that night and helped save the lives of many others.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department and the University of California Police Department gathered to honor those in their ranks who responded to the murderous rampage of Elliot Rodger on May 23, 2014, in the Isla Vista community.

Authorities discovered that Rodger had killed his two roommates and one of their friends in his Seville Road apartment before driving through Isla Vista, shooting at pedestrians and bicyclists, and hitting people with his car.

“Within eight short minutes, three additional young victims had lost their lives, 14 people were injured, four sheriff’s deputies were involved in shooting situations, and the suspect had killed himself,” stated an investigative report on the incident that was released earlier this year.

Sheriff Bill Brown reminded the crowd in attendance at the Isla Vista Theater on Wednesday that a whole host of people worked together to help stop Rodger.

He awarded the Sheriff's Medal of Valor to Sgt. Brad Welch and Deputies Adrien Marquez, Brian Flick, Jorden Walker and Wayne Johnson. It was an award that Brown has awarded only once before during his time in office.

The Medals of Valor were all given for their actions that night, which started when Marquez heard what was going on from his post at Del Playa Drive and El Embarcadero.

"Without concern for his own safety and without any cover," Marquez fired at Rodger as he drove by, Brown said.

Marquez was able to relay crucial information to Welch, Flick, Johnson and Walker, who went to Little Acorn Park, Brown added.

As they looked west, they spotted Rodger's vehicle behind the International Market, where Rodger was reloading his handgun. Rodger began driving toward the men, firing at the deputies. Welch, Flick and Walker returned fire, one of them wounding Rodger in the hip.

Brown said Johnson showed "immense restraint" by withholding fire after one of his fellow deputies stepped in his line of sight.

Communications dispatchers Matthew Paine, Lindsay Hedricks, David Washington, Angelena Renshaw, Rachel Chester, Shannon McLeod, Jessica Smith, Amanda Quinionez and Susan Farley all worked that night and received the Sheriff's Unit Citation during Wednesday's ceremony.

Renshaw answered the first 9-1-1 call that night, and within minutes, calls began to pour into dispatch reporting shots fired and people down.

The center received more than 100 calls in the next half-hour, and the dispatchers worked to remain calm throughout the event so they could coordinate law enforcement and fire activities, Brown said.

The Sheriff's Lifesaving Awards went to Deputies Patrick Genovese and Kenneth Rushing for actively performing CPR or other lifesaving first aid to an injured person to save their lives.

Genovese was one block away from the Alpha Pi sorority house when shots were fired, and arrived at the house to find three young women on the ground. Placing his hands over the multiple gunshot wounds of Bianca DeKock, Genovese was able to stop the bleeding and she survived. 

He instructed bystanders to check the pulse of the other two women, Veronika Weiss and Katherine Cooper, who both died of multiple gunshot wounds.  

Rushing found a male victim lying face down in a yard on Sabado Tarde with a single gunshot wound and applied direct pressure, and the young man was transported to the hospital and survived. 

Members of UCSB's police department were awarded police valor citations for their service that night, when they also ran toward Rodger's gunshots. Sgt. Daniel Wilson, Corporals Gregory Pierce and Jeffery Lupo, and Officer Tyler Oldread were recognized Wednesday. 

Isla Vista Foot Patrol responders were given the Sheriff's Unit Citation Award: Deputies Justin DiPinto, Neil Gowing, Wayne Johnson, Patrick Genovese, Karen McCormick, Bradford Smith, William Coffman, Brian Flick, Kim Fryslie, Adrien Marquez and Jorden Walker and Sgts. Marc Hammill and Brad Welch.

Detective Joseph Schmidt also received a Meritorious Service Award for his work as the lead investigator in the case, which had 17 separate crime scenes, and the resulting 64-page investigative summary that was issued to the public. 

Special Enforcement Team Medic Debbie Lux, Deputy Christopher Gotschall, Detective Adrian Hernandez, Lt. Brian Olmstead, Detective Matthew Fenske, Detective Tyler Yeates, Sgt. Gregory Sanders and Sgt. Christopher Corbett also received the award for performing lifesaving measures on a Santa Barbara police detective who had a heart attack while responding to help with the investigation.

UCPD Sgt. Matthew Bly and Officers Daniel Crawford, Michael Little and Robert Rogers were all awarded the public safety meritorious service citation. Sgt. Antonio Borrayo was given the award posthumously, as he passed away from natural causes.

UCPD dispatchers John Blake-Lobb and Lindsay Straub were also awarded for exceptional service. UCPD Sgts. Rob Romero, Ryan Smith, Rory Sheehy, Detective Greg Smorodinsky, Corporal Matthew Stern and Officer Darren Miller were also awarded with public safety meritorious unit citations.

During the ceremony, Brown read the name of each victim who perished that night, followed by a moment of silence.

A commendation bar with the inscription "Isla Visa 2014" will also be awarded to every public safety employee who responded to the incident or played a role in managing it afterward, according to the Sheriff's Department. 

Brown commended the first responders who engaged in two separate gun battles with Rodger, and said their quick thinking that night prevented the deaths of many more people.

"Your remarkable efforts have now become a part of history," he told them.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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