Officers Honored for Canyon Gunfight : 2 Los Alamitos Policemen, 2 Sheriff’s Deputies Given County’s Highest Award--Medal of Valor

<i> Times Staff Writer</i>

Four Orange County lawmen caught in a nighttime gun battle last November as they searched for stolen vehicles in Silverado Canyon received what officials say is the county’s highest police award on Tuesday, the Medal of Valor.

Sgt. Reed Gloshen and Officer Ron Farnam of the Los Alamitos Police Department and Sheriff’s Deputies John McGuire and Tom Fox were honored for bravery and heroism at a luncheon at the Westin South Coast Plaza hotel in Costa Mesa.

“I can pat them on the back for a job well done every day,” Orange County Sheriff-Coroner Brad Gates said to the crowd of about 500 who gathered for the first Sheriff’s Medal of Valor Luncheon. “But it means much, much more to have the community show their support the way they have today.”

Three other deputies were also honored during the luncheon: Medals of Merit were given to Sgt. Rick Moser for planning and designing jail facilities, Sgt. Jim Sidebotham for investigating convicted killer Randy Steven Kraft, and senior forensic specialist Sharon Krenz for helping to solve a San Diego rape and murder case.


Purple Heart Medal

And a Purple Heart Medal was awarded to the parents of Deputy Mark Tonkin, who was killed in a helicopter crash last November while searching for drug smugglers near the Imperial County border.

“We are thrilled that the community has reached out to us like they have,” said Jim Tonkin, the deputy’s father. “There of course is a void in our life now, but we just try to take it one day at a time.”

The awards are sponsored by the Orange County Sheriff’s Advisory Board, which selected the winners based on nominations from the county’s various law enforcement agencies.


The Silverado Canyon gun battle occurred as Gloshen, Farnam, McGuire and Fox were conducting a joint investigation, trying to solve the theft of some heavy equipment. At one point, the lawmen began questioning a suspect who lived in a trailer in the canyon.

Suddenly the suspect reached for a 12-gauge shotgun and fired at Gloshen, wounding him in the chest.

Gloshen managed to draw his weapon and return the fire, wounding the suspect in the leg as the other lawmen dived for cover. Farnam pulled Gloshen from the line of fire and administered first aid.

Deputy McGuire tried to negotiate with the suspect. But when the man continued firing, Fox shot and killed him.


“For me, to see the audience filled with citizens means this award shows that the community is pleased and appreciative of the things the Police Department is trying to do,” Gloshen told a reporter after the luncheon. He had been hospitalized for 20 days after the gun battle. “You’re not always around and able to tell someone (in his case, Farnam) ‘thank you’ for saving your life.”

Gloshen, 47, said he rarely thinks about the night he was wounded. “I don’t know if that’s good or bad. . . . But I haven’t had the nightmares or the bad dreams you expect to go through after that kind of ordeal.”

The officer suspects, however, that his 23-year career will end because of the incident.

“Of course it has taken its toll and I realize that,” Gloshen said. “I have to return to the hospital for more surgery from complications of the wounds I received. It has prohibited me from doing some of things I used to on the force.”


Farnam, 39, is an 11-year veteran of the Los Alamitos force, while Fox is 46 and has been a deputy for nine years. McGuire, 44, has been with the Sheriff’s Department for 19 years.