County police Lt. Gary Barr went to Marley Station Mall for a new pair of Docksiders; instead he ended up with two armed robbers and $1.3 million in jewelry.
And for those actions, Barr, along with Officers Gordon Merritt, Joseph Hatcher, Steven Saffield, Kyle Starghill and Kevin Tribull, were awarded the county police's Silver Star.
Barr, who was off-duty April 30 when two jewelry stores in the mall were robbed simultaneously, heard the call from mall security officers and followed the suspects out of the mall parking lot and into a residential neighborhood across the street.
"When it first started, I thought they were shoplifters," Barr said. "I was going to follow them and let a uniformed officer make the traffic stop.
No big deal. Then I heard it was an armed robbery."
Barr, along with Merritt, who was also off-duty, Hatcher and Saffield, pursued the robbers, catching two of them in the woods behind a home on Phelps Avenue.
Starghill and Tribull caught a third robber in a nearby shopping center.
Receiving Law Enforcement Commendation Award for Outstanding Service to the Community were mall security and management employees William Dixon, Craig Perry, Diana Salatti, David King, LouAnn Fowler, Bobby Kemp and Ronald Clark.
"Via radio communications, they were able to keep track of the suspects, obtain their descriptions, the make of the vehicle and which direction they left the mall," said Officer Richard Molloy, who presented the award to them Tuesday night during a dinner at Snyder's Willow Grove Restaurant in Linthicum.
"It was an unusual incident, no question about that," said Dixon, head of mall security. "There were a lot of people involved and they did what they were trained to do. We were able to work closely with the police."
The Unit Citation award went to the Homicide Unit and its supervisor, Lt. William Tankersley, who heads the Crimes Against Persons section. The homicide unit consists of unit commander Sgt. Thomas Suit and detectives Thomas Hauf, Ronald Bateman, Dirk Rinehart, David Harp and Thomas Rzepkowski.
The officers were praised for solving the May 1989 murders of Morgan Delost, 13, and Brian Lemmons, 12. They were stabbed to death in Glen Burnie on their way home from buying Mother's Day cards.
Detectives agreed that the age of the victims made the case particularly difficult.
"It was the kids," said Hauf, who has been a homicide investigator for five years. "I can still see those two kids."
Rinehart, an investigator in the unit for three years, said he and other detectives went three days with only about two hours of sleep, with nothing to keep them going but their "adrenalin and desire to solve the case."
"The analytical side is that your mind is working like a computer, taking all the information in," he said. "When it's all over, emotions start to set in."
Suit credited his detectives for the long hours they put in on cases.
"They are the ones in the trenches," he said. "I just coach them along."
Also receiving the Unit Citation award was the Training Academy staff headed by Capt. A. L. Apperson. The staff consists of Lt. Michael Fitzgibbons, Sgt. Bonnie Welsh, Sgt. Robert Johnson, Officer Gary Frye, Officer Jim Kelly, Sgt. Dave Shipleu, Sgt. Tom Michalowicz, Sgt. Steve Shockley and Carina Owens. They were recognized for teaching over 500 officers how to use the 9mm semi-automatic handguns.
The following officers were awarded the Chief's Award for Job Excellence:
* Lt. William Pantall Jr. for 27 years of service and reporting for duty while battling cancer.
* Lt. Gary Barr for his work with the Quick Response Team and the Special Operations Section.
* Officer Randall Jones, who also received the Silver Star award for getting into a burning car on Ritchie Highway on Nov. 24, 1989, putting out the fire and comforting the victims until firefighters arrived.
Eleven civilians received the Law Enforcement Award for Outstanding Service to the Community:
* Kenneth Ruehl, owner of the Starting Gate Shell gas station in Maryland City, for assisting an officer who was apprehending a theft suspect on Sept. 13, 1989.
* Jeanne Battle, of south county, for providing homicide detectives with information that led to the identification of a murder suspect on June 15, 1989.
* Brenda Ecker and Debra Fitzgerald, leaders of Girl Scout Troop 1111, for packaging toys for needy children at Christmastime.
* Jerri Thorne, of Maryland City, for providing the toys for needy children at Christmastime.
* Tony and Khris Renia, of Pasadena, for saving a drowning boy near Greenland Beach Marina on Aug. 19.
* Terry Niec, a C&P Telephone Co. employee, for personally monitoring tracing devices on telephones during the Morgan Delost and Brian Lemmons case.
* A. Glenn White, of Glen Burnie Stationers, for helping police catch a man who was selling stolen paper.
* David Gibson, of Shady Side, for saving a young child who fell into the water from a Shady Side pier on June 23.