Police chief honors officers, dispatchers
The Costa Mesa Police Department honored police officers and dispatchers Thursday for their quick thinking, teamwork and compassion during a July 8 fatal shooting in the 2900 block of Redwood Avenue.
Sgt. Matthew Grimmond, Sgt. Bryan Wadkins, Officer Frank Christian, Officer Kha Bao and Officer John Doezie received the Medal of Merit from Police Chief Tom Gazsi and Capts. Les Gogerty and Allen Huggins during a ceremony in City Council Chambers.
“It is the highest calling of our profession,” Gazsi said, “and they performed extremely well.”
The officers worked together on a July homicide case in the 2900 block of Redwood Avenue. The officers were called to the scene of a shooting and, while outside the home, heard a gunshot and then found a man had allegedly killed his ex-girlfriend.
One dispatcher calmed Christine Murray’s 8-year-old son, who called saying his mother’s ex-boyfriend was in the home with a gun, while another was able to work with Murray’s niece in learning key information to relay to officers, Gazsi said.
Within minutes of the shooting, police were on the scene, Gazsi said, and as officers approached the home they heard a gunshot, and prepared for an active shooter incident.
Police spotted Thomas Michael Wilhelm, 48, and arrested him, before sweeping the house for potential victims and weapons. Officer Nicole Brown, who received the Distinguished Service award, attended to a dying Murray, consoling her and rendering aid.
“While the outcome of this act was unquestionably tragic,” Gazsi said the officers’ actions were “simply courageous and heroic.”
Officer Michael Cohen, Officer Lance Healey, Officer Hans Guenther, Communications Supervisor Janet Wingert, Communications Supervisor Reena Bolle, Communications Officer Joanna Lopez and Communications Officer Rachel Caruso received the Class A Commendation. Recipient Officer Charles Oliver was unable to attend.
“None of us would have asked for this, none of us would have chosen for this to happen,” Gazsi said. “You did very, very well.”
Grimmond said the officers are vested in the community and the well-being of its residents.
“Service above self,” Grimmond said. “It’s an old concept — it still holds true today.”