Four Sheriff’s Deputies To Receive Congressional Badge of Bravery

Four San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies who distinguished themselves through quick-witted and intrepid action more than two years ago were recently awarded the Congressional Badge of Bravery and will be decorated with those awards next week.
Sheriff’s detectives Larry Lopez and Justin Musella along with deputy Daniel Rosa were recognized by the U.S. Attorney General’s Office for their efforts while under fire to save their fellow deputies Jeremiah MacKay and Alex Collins during a confrontation with renegade former Los Angeles police officer Christopher Dorner in the San Bernardino Mountains on February 12, 2013. Sheriff’s deputy Arturo Ramirez is being honored for his instantaneous reaction in shepherding five people to safety after they were trapped in a burning apartment in Victorville on June 15, 2013.
Lopez, Musella and Rosa’s heroics came near the climax of Dorner’s ten-day rampage at various locations in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and lastly San Bernardino counties before it came to a close with his suicide by a gunshot within a burning cabin near Big Bear.
Dorner’s murderous spree was triggered by his discipline and firing by the Los Angeles Police Department under conditions he considered unfair and prejudicial.
He sought to exact revenge by killing Monica Quan, the 28-year-old daughter of former LAPD captain Randal Quan, who essentially served as Dorner’s representative during an LAPD board of review which ultimately resulted in Dorner’s firing. Dorner killed Monica Quan and her fiancé, 27-year-old Keith Lawrence, in Lawrence’s Kia Optima outside their condominium in Irvine on February 3, 2013.
On February 7, 2013, two LAPD officers assigned to a protection detail for one of the Los Angeles Police Department’s commanding officers believed to be targeted by Dorner closed in upon Dorner after 1 a.m. as he was driving his dark gray 2005 Nissan Titan pickup truck. Dorner stopped, emerged from the vehicle and fired a rifle at them, grazing the head of one officer.
Eluding the two Los Angeles police officers, Dorner drove to neighboring Riverside, where at around 1:35 a.m., he encountered two Riverside Police Department officers in their patrol unit waiting at a red traffic light. He opened fire on them without warning, wounding one who survived the ordeal and killing the other, officer Michael Crain. Dorner drove directly to San Diego, where he attempted, unsuccessfully, to steal a boat. In what might have been a ruse to throw those tracking him off his trail, he told the boat’s captain that he was intent on getting to Mexico.
Later that day, Dorner had driven to Big Bear Lake, where he set out to a remote area by means of a fire road. After his truck became disabled, he set it afire. The truck was found almost immediately by a local resident who came upon it by chance.
Over the next four-and-a-half days, an intensive manhunt in the area around Big Bear ensued. On February 12 Dorner attempted to carjack a vehicle shortly after noon. At that point, officers from numerous agencies responded. Among the first of those to pour into the area were deputies Jeremiah MacKay and Alex Collins. Dorner mortally wounded MacKay and seriously wounded Collins. With Dorner barricaded inside a cabin where he had a vantage over the area where MacKay and Collins lay hovering between life and death, Lopez, Musella and Rosa devised a stratagem by which Musella and Rosa threw smoke canisters into the area between the cabin and where MacKay and Collins were downed. Under the cover of this smokescreen and Musella’s steady stream of gunfire at the cabin, Rosa and Lopez charged forward to lift MacKay and Collins and carry them away, ultimately loading them onto a helicopter which airlifted them to Loma Linda University Medical Center, where detective MacKay was pronounced dead.
Ultimately, Dorner perished in the cabin, apparently at his own hand, after the structure was set afire by pyrotechnic tear gas canisters shot into it.
Four months later, on June 15, 2013, at around 2 a.m., a fire, which was later determined to have been caused by faulty wiring, broke out in an apartment located at 14243 Rodeo Drive in Victorville. A call went out and deputy Arturo Ramirez arrived well ahead of the responding fire company. Residents of the complex told Ramirez that people were trapped inside one of the upstairs units. He leapt up the stairs two at a time and into the smoke-filled apartment, encountering a woman, holding a 5-month-old infant, and an 11-year-old girl who was clutching the hand of a toddler. Ramirez moved them out of the apartment to safety.
Thereupon, he was told another girl was yet inside the apartment. From his vantage point, Ramirez could see a pair of tiny palms pounding on the front window to the apartment, and he again raced inside, where he found seven-year-old Nevaeh Nemes and guided her out of the conflagration.
Firefighters arrived just two minutes later. It took them nearly an hour to fully douse the flames.
“I am extremely proud of detective Larry Lopez, detective Justin Musella, deputy Danny Rosa and deputy Arturo Ramirez,” sheriff John McMahon said. “Each one of them showed extraordinary bravery. It is truly an honor to be a part of their ceremony as they receive the Congressional Badge of Bravery for their selfless acts. These deputies are an example of the honorable men and women we have working for our department.”

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