A total of four police officers will be receiving the department’s top honor this week. News 9 spoke with two of them about the dangerous chase that took place in a busy part of northwest Oklahoma City last summer.
It was the morning of June 18, 2015 that officers with the Southwest Division got involved in a chase with a distraught father holding a gun. The pursuit started around NW 3rd and Klein but ended up winding through the Penn Square Mall parking lot.
“Several cars were in pursuit, I wound up being the lead car,” said Officer Amanda Heppler with the Oklahoma City Police Department.
During the pursuit, the armed man shot at the officers multiple times.
For Officer Heppler, who has only been on the force for three years, it was a first.
“First shooting, first high speed pursuit - with bullets flying,” said Heppler.
Lt. Vernon Kriethe was also in on the dangerous chase with the armed suspect, and even saw the suspect point a gun at a woman who had just arrived at the mall. But the suspect did not shoot the gun at her. Instead, he shot right at the officers chasing him.
“I could actually see the muzzle flash, I was that close to him,” said Lt. Kriethe. “He fired at me several times and as he got into Belle Isle Blvd., he fired two rounds at me and then lost control of his vehicle.”
Despite all the bullets flying, no one was hurt, and the suspect was taken to jail. And it is for their courage and bravery that the Oklahoma City Police Department is awarding Officer Heppler Lt. Kriethe the Medal of Valor.
The two said it is an honor to receive the award, and an honor to serve the department.
“It’s not about just driving fast and shooting guns and chasing the bad guys,” said Heppler. “It’s to help people, that's why I do it.”
Sgt. Michael Levescy and Sgt. Archie Poindexter are also receiving the honor. They two were part of the dangerous chase and helped take the armed man into custody that morning.