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14 California officers receive Medal of Valor awards at Capitol

Medals of valor
Medal recipients Justin Musella, left, Larry Lopez and Daniel Rosa of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, who were involved in the manhunt for former L.A. police officer Christopher Dorner, are shown in July 2013.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Fourteen law enforcement officers, including three involved in a deadly shootout with cop killer Christopher Dorner last year, were honored by California Gov. Jerry Brown and California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris on Monday.

Speaking at a ceremony in the Capitol, Brown said the Medal of Valor awards are about “recognizing the absolute human necessity of duty, of courage and of solidarity, so our community, from the bottom up, gets stronger and stronger.”

Det. Larry Lopez, Det. Justin Musella and Deputy Daniel Rosa were the three officers from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department recognized for their role in the shootout with Dorner.

While Musella threw smoke canisters, Lopez and Rosa dashed into the road to pull two wounded officers to safety. One of them, Det. Jeremiah MacKay, later died. The other, Deputy Alex Collins, lived, and was at Monday’s ceremony.

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Collins recalled lying on the ground while bullets flew overhead when Rosa ran up and dragged him behind a car.

“I remember him telling me I was going to be OK,” said Collins, who has since been promoted to detective. 

Three more officers -- Sgt. Raymond Bottenfield of the Santa Monica College Police Department and officers Jason Salas and Robert Sparks of the Santa Monica Police Department -- were honored for stopping a shooting rampage in the city last summer. They shot and killed the gunman in a campus library.

Another rampage, at Los Angeles International Airport in November, led to awards for six more officers.

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Sgt. Steve Zouzounis and officers David Lalicker, Brian Lopez, Robert Pedregon, Raymond Woods and Daniel Yu confronted the gunman, wounding him with gunfire before he was taken into custody.

Deputy Arturo Ramirez, also from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, was also honored, for racing into a burning apartment building twice to save an adult and four children before firefighters arrived.

And another award went to Shasta County Correctional Officer John Zufall, who risked his life in an attempt to save a fellow diver at the bottom of a lake.

Follow @chrismegerian on Twitter for more updates from Sacramento.


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