Sheriff Honors Deputies and Citizens with Life Saving Citations and Community Service Awards
45 Partners Recognized for Oxford High School Tragedy Response
Oakland County, MI – May 18, 2022 - Eight area residents joined a host of Oakland
County Sheriff’s Office Deputies, civilian employees and law enforcement partners who were
honored with citations and awards today by Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard.
The honors included lifesaving and valor citations, citizen and community service awards, and the announcement of eight Sheriff’s Office ”Of the Year” recognitions. The honorees were thanked and acknowledged before a standing-room only ceremony held in the Board of Commissioners Auditorium on the county campus in Pontiac.
“Each and every day I am proud of the incredible work our team at the Sheriff’s Office has been doing over some of the most difficult moments in our county’s history,” Bouchard said. “It is an honor to work side-by-side with them and this ceremony gives me a chance to thank them publicly.”
Oxford High School Shooting
Bouchard paid special attention to recognize and thank the 45 federal, state, and local law enforcement partners and first responders who sent personnel to the tragic shooting at Oxford High School in Nov. 30. Agencies included the FBI, U.S. Secret Service, Joint Terrorism Task Force, U.S. Department of Justice, Michigan Department of Corrections, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Narcotics, Department of Natural Resources, Michigan State Police, Lapeer County Sheriff’s Office, Auburn Hills Police Department, Lapeer Police Department, Oxford Village Police Department, Lake Orion Police Department, Ferndale Police Department, West Bloomfield Police Department, Rochester Police Department, Birmingham Police Department, Royal Oak Police Department, Franklin Village Police Department, Berkley Police Department, Dryden Police Department, Bloomfield Township Police Department, Huntington Woods Police Department, Troy Police Department, Metamora Police Department, Novi Police Department, Grand Blanc Township Police Department, and Southfield Police Department.
Firefighters from nine departments were also honored: Oxford Fire Department, Orion Township Fire Department, Independence Township Fire Department, Oakland Township Fire Department, Brandon Township Fire Department, West Bloomfield Fire Department, Bloomfield Township Fire Department, Rochester Hills Fire Department, Farmington Fire Department and Springfield Township Fire Department and the North Oakland Fire Authority as well as Lapeer County EMS, MedStar, Survival Flight, Common Ground, Oakland County Community Mental Health and the Salvation Army.
The Sheriff’s Office had more than 200 staff respond, and outside agencies sent more than 250 personnel to the scene.
“We had trained for years with all of our public safety partners to face terrible threats,” Bouchard said. “We hoped and prayed this type of tragedy would never visit our community, but it did. Tragically, our training was put to the test on that day and without the support of all our partners, the necessary resources and response would not have been possible. I thank them from the bottom of my heart.”
The ceremony was followed by a 21-gun salute from the Sheriff’s Office Honor Guard, the playing of Taps, and Amazing Grace by a bagpiper to honor the many law enforcement fallen heroes from the past year.
Selected for Sheriff’s Office “Of the Year” honors were:
Command Officer of the Year • Lieutenant Paul Workman
Corrections Deputy of the Year • Deputy Jocelyn Babiak
Road Patrol Deputy of the Year • Deputy Carlos Cordova
Investigator of the Year • Detective Michael E. Miller
Dispatch Specialist of the Year • Dispatch Specialist Anna Craft
Employee of the Year • Supervisor Katie West
Part-Time Deputy of the Year • Court Deputy Robert Beno
Reserve Deputy of the Year • Reserve Deputy Paul Rea
Bouchard awarded valor citations to the two Deputies who were the first on the scene and who arrested the shooter: Oxford High School Resource Deputy Jason Louwaert and Deputy Patrick Yens from the Sheriff's Office Oxford substation.
Louwaert and Yens were on the scene within minutes of learning of the shooting. They entered the school without waiting for additional backup and within seconds of entering they had the shooter in custody without any additional loss of life.
In addition, Bouchard awarded citations for bravery to the following deputies for their actions on Nov. 30: Lieutenant Scott Patterson, Sergeant Frank Lenz, Deputy Kyle Weingartz, Deputy Bradley Teague, Deputy Shane Freiberg, Deputy Reynolds Grant, Deputy David Slazinski, Deputy Gregory Scheuer, Deputy John MacDonald, Deputy Scott Rafalski, Deputy James Salyers, Deputy Jeff Sauve, Deputy Todd Hawke, Deputy Amy Wakerley, Deputy Ken Wakerley, Deputy Sheri Will, and Deputy James Willyard.
Teague, Slazinski, Scheuer, and Weingartz were among the first on scene. They entered the building without hesitation, self-deployed, and organized with other responding deputies inside the school, ensuring there were no additional shooters. They rendered aid to the injured and assisted in the evacuation of the remaining students and faculty from the school. All their actions helped minimize the number of injured and deceased.
The sheriff also honored Oxford High School student Heidi Allen with a citizen award. She was in the high school at the time of the shooting and disregarded her own safety to pull an injured student into a classroom and barricade the door. When Heidi was interviewed by an officer, she displayed incredible composure and moral character while providing a detailed statement about the horrors that had just occurred. She was given a standing ovation when receiving her award.
Other citizen citation awards went to:
• Nathan Praski-Smith, Brad Eaton, Leila Abdallahi-Smith, and Daniel Circirelli, all of Holly: On Nov. 24, 2021, fire broke out in a garage of a residence in Holly. Nathan Praski- Smith used a hose to spray the door to the basement in attempt to get family members to safety. Brad Eaton circled around to the back of the house and kicked in a small window to the basement where he was able to pull a child to safety. Leila Abdallah-Smith ran upstairs and ensured the evacuation of three people still in the residence. Daniel Cicirelli was able to break the frame of a window so officers could rescue his sister.
• Bruce Bollini and Lisa Bollini, of Oakland Township: On June 20, 2021, Bruce and his mother Lisa called the Sheriff’s Office to report that both an SUV and a new house under construction in their neighborhood had been set on fire. They took a video of the suspects and their vehicle and turned the evidence over to deputies. Not only did they prevent a fire from destroying the vehicle and home, but because of their actions, the suspects were identified and brought to justice.
• David Townsend, of Milford: David Townsend is being commended for observing a pickup truck that had driven off the roadway and was burning. With no regard for his own safety, Townsend pulled the driver out of the burning vehicle through the passenger door. Once he was able to get the driver to safety, he called 911 and reported the incident.
Community Service Citations were awarded to:
• Scarlett Shimoon and Christina Ion who supported the Sheriff’s Office by selling handmade jewelry and donating a portion of the proceeds to officers in need of help as “Sparkle for a Cause.” In 2021 they raised nearly $10,000 which was donated officers across Michigan, including the Sheriff’s Office. They spent their own time and money raising funds for the six individuals in the OCSO battling cancer. On Dec. 5, they donated $3,000 toward a therapy dog for the office named Scarlett.
• Dan Gutfreund, a local realtor at Signature Sotheby’s International in Birmingham. In 2019, he approached the Sheriff’s Office about becoming involved in a community service project that would benefit local kids: The Sheriff’s Re-CYCLE for Kids program, which provides bikes to young people in need of one. Gutfreund led the collection of used bikes and donated a large quantity of new bikes to the program.
• Larry McKenzie, of McKenzie Moving & Storage, was honored for his contributions and assistance with the Sheriff’s annual Coats for the Cold Coat Drive as well as other community service contributions. Since 2015, McKenzie has donated the use of portable storage units for coat collection at several coat drive drop-off sites for the entire month of November. He also provided storage containers during the bottle and can drive for the Sheriff PAL Program during the height of the pandemic, as well as helping with the transportation of collected bikes during the annual Sheriff’s Re-CYCLE for Kids bike drive.
Lifesaving citations were given for the following:
• Sgt. John Jacobson, Supervisor James Richardson II, Deputy James Fitzpatrick, Deputy Bridget Siterlet, Deputy Brian Burke Jr., Deputy Ross Ogans, Deputy Donald Russell Jr., EMT Samantha Griffith, Deputy Brian Otto, Deputy Andrew Asaro, LPN Stephanie Roberts, Deputy Steven Garcia, Deputy Ryan Lotan, Deputy Jordan Geyer, Deputy Julian Terry Jr., Deputy Brian Otto, and Deputy Mark Ganey were honored for providing emergency treatment to save an inmate who tried to injure himself and had no pulse.
• Deputy Timothy Lorey, Deputy Avis Kajy and Deputy Jonathan Bagwell prevented an inmate from attempting to commit suicide by jumping from an upper level to a concrete floor below.
• Deputy Sheri Will, Deputy Christopher Topacio, Deputy Datanyen Myers, Deputy Joseph Tolan, Deputy Michael Henige and Deputy Scott Eddy saved the life of a 17- year-old teen who had sent suicidal messages after breaking up with her boyfriend. The teen was found unresponsive in a locked car that was discovered in a remote location. Lifesaving measures were performed.
• Deputy Ross Ogans and Deputy Bryan Otto applied lifesaving first aid to an inmate who attempted suicide by stabbing himself in the neck with a pencil.
• Sergeant Darrin Zehnpfennig, Sergeant Scott Howden, Deputy Sheri Will, Deputy Michael Summers, Deputy Amy Wakerley, Deputy Sarah Myers, and Deputy Christopher Topacio assisted a woman in a mental health crisis who claimed her baby had been killed and she was being chased by people with guns. As she was placed in protective custody, Deputy Will recognized the woman from a previous call and remembered the woman did have a newborn baby. Further investigation by Deputies led them to the baby in a creek, face down and suffering from hypothermia and shallow breathing. Their coordinated effort resulted in saving the baby’s life.
• Dispatch Specialist Robin Smith took a call from mother who said her son had overdosed on narcotics. Smith calmed the mother down and gave her detailed instructions on how to perform CPR on her own son until help could arrive.
• Deputy Tyler Garofalo successfully applied a tourniquet to save the life of a man with a possible severed artery who was involved in an earlier incident.
• Deputy Connor Corbin and Deputy Steven Pryde saved the life of a suicidal man who was found lying on the ground bleeding from his arm. A tourniquet was applied to stabilize him until EMS arrived.
• Deputy Jordan Smith and Deputy Logan Lynch rescued a woman from a house fire in Highland Township, pulling her through a basement window as she was about to be overcome by smoke and flames.
• Deputy Bradley Denmark, Deputy Maegan Hyde and Deputy Quincy Curtis prevented a woman from committing suicide. The woman was found in the basement of a home standing on a bucket with a belt around her neck and suicide note on the counter. She was taken for medical treatment.
• Deputy Michael Summers was first on the scene of a serious accident, with one vehicle on fire and the other vehicle had two occupants with serious injuries. Deputy Summers rescued a 6-year-old boy from one vehicle and provided first aid to stabilize him. He also removed and stabilized a 49-year-old driver with broken bones and instructed onlookers how they could assist on the scene.
Individual Meritorious Citations:
On June 25, a victim reported being robbed at gunpoint by an unknown male. Deputy Carlos Cordova was on patrol on June 29 and saw a vehicle that matched the description of the suspect vehicle. He initiated a traffic stop which resulted in the arrest of the robbery suspect and the recovery of a handgun from the vehicle.
On April 14, Deputy Charles Piotrowski was working an overtime shift and on patrol in Pontiac. A woman jumped off the roof of a house and ran to the street as Dep. Piotrowski was driving. The woman had been shot and the suspect was on the porch, possibly in pursuit. Dep. Piotrowski immediately radioed his location and what circumstances he knew and ran toward the suspect who retreated into his house. The female then fell near his patrol vehicle, and he rushed to check on her while radioing a description of the suspect. Ultimately the suspect had fled to Ohio and was caught 10 days later. When the suspect's residence was searched, a deceased male was found. Deputy Piotrowski's quick action possibly saved the life of one victim and led to the arrest of another person.
Captain Todd Hill and Sergeant Jeff Cardinal are part of the OCSO Peer Support Team. They have made it their mission to effect positive change for those in the law enforcement profession struggling with personal and substance abuse issues as well as mental health related issues. It is in large part by the groundwork laid out by these two command officers which led to the proper handling of the after actions of the Oxford High School shooting.
Armed Suicidal Subject: Deputy James Ginnel, Deputy Bradley Reckling, Deputy David Pachmeyer, Deputy Thomas Pfeifer, and Deputy Andrew Jagot. On Feb. 4, Deputies were dispatched to a suicidal person who threatened to shoot himself. Deputies located the responsible in a parking lot. As Deputies approached, the responsible got out of his vehicle with a handgun. The responsible lifted it above his waist in the direction of Deputies. Deputies gave loud verbal commands to drop the handgun at which time the responsible placed the handgun on the ground. The responsible was taken into custody without incident.
I-75 Accident: On June 25, 2021, Deputies Katie Green and Daniel Drwencke were returning to the Oakland County Jail on Interstate I-75 when they observed an injury accident on the southbound I-75. The Deputies were first on the scene and provided aid to the victims until EMS arrived.
Sheriff’s Distinguished Service Citation
Deputy Charlie *CJ* Johnson has been instrumental in developing and maintaining the information technology systems within the Oakland County Jail. He installed televisions and cable wires in housing units that traditionally didn’t have televisions. He also maintains the body cameras and the IPAD systems for the jail.
Wrong Way Driver:
While Deputies were working the scene of an intoxicated wrong way drunk driver in the roadway, Sergeant Gerald Hall arrived and assisted with traffic. While Deputies were on foot and exposed to danger, a vehicle was approaching at a high rate of speed. Putting his own safety at risk, Sgt. Hall used his patrol vehicle to shield the Deputies from the approaching vehicle. Sgt. Hall’s actions caused the reckless driver to swerve and slow down, avoiding the Deputies.
Corrections & Court Technology:
Deputy Scott Lucas was instrumental in the implementation of the electronic/ video court proceedings for the inmates in the Oakland County Jail and the district courts in Oakland County.
During 2021, Deputy Daniel Muhlitner went above and beyond his duties each day. When the inmate workers were not available due to Covid-19 quarantine, he made food to feed the inmate population and made sure the kitchen was clean and sanitized.
Oxford Strong Pin:
Deputy John Roehrig has been assigned to the Commerce substation since October. In that short amount of time, Deputy Roehrig has proven himself to be an outstanding and exceptional member of the substation. No matter the task, Deputy Roehrig is active and eager to try new initiatives, which includes helping the victims of the Oxford School tragedy by working with the Oakland County Deputy Sheriffs Assocation Family Benevolent Fund to design and distribute “Oxford Strong” pins and helping set up Oxford Strong Charity Stations in local businesses.
Sheriff’s Special Commendation
Deputy Carlos Cordova.
On February 20, Deputy Cordova was on patrol in Pontiac. While conducting his normal patrol duties, Deputy Cordova reviewed a homicide report from the day prior. Deputy Cordova continued to check areas for the responsible subject and was able to locate him on foot and take the subject into custody without incident. Deputy Cordova transported for an interview and collected crucial evidence.
Sheriff’s Distinguished Unit Citations
Computer Crimes Unit: Detective Sergeant Jonathan Elges, Detective Edward Wagrowski, Detective Jeffrey Enger and Detective Jeremy Bois.
On Nov. 30, Computer Crimes Unit Detectives examined large amounts of digital evidence gathered from Oxford High School. This massive undertaking continues to this day, examining video, phones, computers, and preparing and servicing a large amount of search warrants along with the data from seized devices.
Forensic Laboratory Crime Scene Unit: Technician Allison Buczek, Investigator Robert Charlton, Leader Rachel Grace, Leader Robert Koteles, Investigator Stephanie Alston, Investigator Valerie Mayra, Investigator Kathleen Miller, and Investigator Siera Ramierz.
On Nov. 30, the unit processed Oxford High School for evidence. They spent approximately 15 hours at the crime scene, to create a 3D scan of the scene, process fired ammunition evidence, and authoring reports to be used in expert witness testimony at trial.
Auto Theft Unit: Sergeant Michael Ritchie, Detective James McCoy, Sergeant Terrence Somerville, Detective Jennifer Wiegand, Detective Faisal Khawaja, Detective Don Greenwald, Detective Mathew Middleton, Detective Jason Gruda, Detective David Schoeneweg, Detective Charles Bowie, Southfield Police Detective Hussein Bzeih, Deputy Gerald Schroeder, Hazel Park Police Detective Ryan McCabe, Farmington Hills Police Detective Chris Weiss, and Detroit Police Detective Carl Mack.
The Auto Theft Unit is a multi-jurisdictional team recognized as one of the best in Michigan. In 2021, the unit recovered 564 stolen automobiles with a recovered value of more than $14 million. It had 769 cases and obtained 252 arrests.
Fire Investigation Unit: Detective Howard “Chip” Schultz, Detective Thomas Bisio, and Detective Trever Sanford. The Unit accepting posthumously on behalf of Detective Robert Loken E.O.W. (end of watch) January 28, 2022.
In 2021 the Fire Investigations Unit assisted more than 29 law enforcement and fire service agencies, conducting 138 investigations, with five of them being fatal fires. The unit obtained 21 warrants, made seven arrests with successful convictions, and 12 cases are pending. The 2021 Michigan Chapter of the International Association of Arson Investigators recognized two OCSO’s investigators as Fire Investigators of the Year.
Pontiac Directed Patrol Unit (DPU): Sergeant Dan Main, Deputy Nathaniel Rogers, Deputy Matthew Morrison, Deputy Kyle Mountz, Deputy Cody Johnson, Deputy Steven Lundquist, and Deputy Ahmed Alzayadi.
Since inception in 2011, the Pontiac Directed Patrol Unit has had substantial impact on streetlevel crime in Pontiac. Each year for more than 10 years, DPU has consistently recorded hundreds of felony arrests and seized illicit and illegal items. In 2021, DPU made over 500 felony arrests, confiscated over $300,000 worth of illegal controlled substances, seized over $140,000 in cash the sale of illegal drugs, and taken 146 illegal guns off the street.
Corrective Services Division Command Staff
Undersheriff Curtis Childs, Captain Thomas Vida Jr., Sergeant Christopher Moerschell, Lieutenant Eric Shimmell, Sergeant Jason Teelander, Lieutenant Darren O’fiara, Sergeant Jade Tanguay, Lieutenant Jennifer Miles, Sergeant Donald Stevenson, Lieutenant Matthew Baldes, Sergeant Raman Sharma, Executive Lieutenant Kathleen Mickens, Sergeant Joseph Fortier, Lieutenant Dennis Servis, Sergeant Joseph Fortier, Lieutenant Sam Marzban , Sergeant Matthew Leggat, Sergeant Ryan Terry, Sergeant John Ashley, Sergeant Che McNeary, Sergeant James Morgan, Sergeant Zach Jordan, Sergeant Charles Yon, Sergeant Dale Brown, Sergeant Sennel Thelkeld, Sergeant Anthony Brown, Sergeant Jonathan Elges, Sergeant Zachary Jensen, Sergeant Ricardo Meza, Sergeant Matthew Steele, Sergeant Kristen Zdankiewicz, Sergeant Jim Farris, Sergeant Michelle Francisco, Sergeant Nicholas Pung and Sergeant Brandon Scruggs.
In 2021, the Corrections command staff dealt with the requirements following a lawsuit as well as the worsening variants of the COVID-19 pandemic. The command staff worked to ensure that all requirements of the lawsuit were met and to quash any allegations made against the Agency. With the variants, every time the situation changed the command staff reacted quickly to ensure the safety of employees, staff, visitors, and inmates. The Command Staff had to innovate and find solutions when COVID made staffing difficult, ensuring the critical parts of the jail were properly staffed. Throughout this time, many command staff had to work outside of their assigned area to solve vacancies.
May 18, 2022, Oakland County Sheriff, and Rochester.Life staff