Two standoffs that ended with gunshots from Colorado Springs police led to Medal of Valor honors for 15 officers and one sergeant at this year’s award luncheon.
The awards, however, are a bit bittersweet to the heroes, who, one by one, described the standoffs in a video presentation Monday afternoon at The Broadmoor hotel. One of the incidents happened at an apartment complex in July 2011 and the other at a local medical clinic in February 2012.
“I think it’s an uncomfortable feeling for most of us,” said Sgt. Dave Gilman moments after receiving his medal. “These situations, they are the ones you never look forward to. We all kind of knew it would have a bad outcome.”
Gilman was involved in the 2011 incident in which officers surrounded an apartment during a domestic violence call. Police were told that Robert Cole, 21 at the time, was threatening to kill his girlfriend.
Cole was in the parking lot when officers arrived. He waived a “large, black handgun,” police said, and quickly ran to his apartment where he also armed himself with a kitchen knife. The girlfriend fled safely with her 4-year-old daughter, but Cole remained. He stood near a window and yelled at police surrounding the building.
Cole eventually pushed out the window screen and pointed his gun at officers. That’s when police fired multiple shots and the standoff ended. Cole survived and is now in prison.
The second incident ended with police saving the lives of several people at Urological Associates on Printers Parkway in central Colorado Springs. The man who took hostages in the late morning on Feb. 28, however, died of his wounds.
Dominic Oliver threatened to shoot officers after taking two women hostage, police said.
Several other people had escaped. Four women hid in another part of the building
Officers devised a plan to save the hidden women. A rescue team attempted to move in while Oliver was distracted, but the gunman saw the officers and raised his gun.
Oliver pointed it at Officer Chris Mace and in the direction of civilians, a report said. Mace fire two shots that hit Oliver. He died at Memorial Hospital.
Gilman and officers Matthew Davis, Richard Hallman, Dale Peterson and Geri Pring were honored with Medals of Valor on Monday for heroics in the July 27, 2011 standoff.
Those receiving Medals of Valor for the February 28 incident were officers Mace, Mark Keller, Carlos Sandoval, Marcus Van Ooyen, Robert Wolf, Jim Carson, Dale Lucky, Jason Ragland, Joe Richardson, Paul Vandel and Juergen Parks.
Sgt. Angelo Butierres, Sgt. Roger Vargason and Officer Brian Kelly earned Distinguished Service Awards for their roles in February.
Also receiving a Distinguished Service Award Monday was Officer Kyle Vanderlinden who captured a suspect with multiple outstanding warrants after being called to a domestic dispute.
According to Springs police Chief Pete CareyCarey, the high number of honorees on Monday was needed.
“They really hit it over the fence and it is well deserved,” the chief said.