OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Three Oklahoma police officers and a National Guardsman will be honored for their bravery and personal sacrifice.
On Tuesday, Gov. Kevin Stitt announced that he will present three police officers with the Oklahoma Purple Heart and the Oklahoma Medal of Valor to an Oklahoma Army National Guardsman in a ceremony on May 18.
Officer Zachary Barby
Officer Zachary Barby is receiving the award for his actions on the morning of Nov. 11, 2020, when several Oklahoma City police officers stop a man suspected of two murders and a kidnapping.
Following a short pursuit that ended near downtown Oklahoma City, the suspect began shooting at multiple officers.
Officer Barby was hit in the torso, but the bullet was stopped by his ballistic vest.
Sgt. Craig Johnson & Officer Aurash Zarkeshan
Around 3:30 a.m. on June 29, two officers with the Tulsa Police Department pulled over a vehicle in the 8900 block of East 21st Street.
Investigators say the officers asked the driver, David Ware, to get out of his vehicle 12 times. When he refused, a taser was deployed.
When that didn’t work, officials say the officers attempted to spray Ware with pepper spray.
When Ware was out of the vehicle, authorities say Ware pulled out a gun and started firing at the officers.
“The bullets found their mark, struck the officers, and the officers were critically injured. The officers went down and the driver slowly walked away from the vehicle and got into a waiting vehicle that had arrived to the scene and drove away,” said Chief Wendell Franklin, with the Tulsa Police Department.
Sgt. Craig Johnson and Officer Aurash Zarkeshan were both shot multiple times and rushed to a nearby hospital in critical condition.
Sadly, officials with the Tulsa Police Department announced that Johnson passed away from his injuries the next day.
Zarkeshan spent months recovering from the shooting, but is now back at work with the Tulsa Police Department.
All three officers earned the Oklahoma Purple Heart for their bravery and personal sacrifice in the line of duty. Johnson’s award will be presented posthumously to his family.
The Oklahoma Purple Heart award is given annually by the Governor on behalf of the State of Oklahoma. The award is presented exclusively to first responders, living or deceased, who are seriously injured in the course of their assigned duties.
Sgt. Pedro Gonzales, III
Oklahoma Army National Guard Sgt. Pedro Gonzales, III, will receive the Oklahoma Medal of Valor for his actions that saved the life of his elderly neighbor.
On Sept. 19, 2020, Sgt. Pedro Gonzales, III stepped between his elderly female neighbor and a man violently attacking her with a knife. Gonzales was able to hold off the attacker long enough for his girlfriend and his neighbor to escape and call 911. The altercation resulted in Gonzales receiving multiple stab wounds to the face and neck. Gonzales has since made a full recovery, though the road to recovery was not an easy one.
The Oklahoma Medal of Valor is an awarded annually by the governor on behalf of the State of Oklahoma to any person, living or deceased, in recognition of extraordinary acts of valor by public safety members and other citizens whose actions display great moral strength and personal courage in the face of fear, danger or difficulty while actively engaged in public service activities.