Two Rutherford County Deputies Earn Medal of Valor for Arresting Murder Suspect

Sheriff Mike Fitzhugh, left, awards the Medal of Valor to Sgt. Jonathan McGee and Deputy Kyle Grisham
Sheriff Mike Fitzhugh, left, awards the Medal of Valor to Sgt. Jonathan McGee and Deputy Kyle Grisham

Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office

Two Rutherford County Sheriff’s deputies earned the Medal of Valor for risking their lives when arresting a suspect accused of killing a Robertson County deputy.

SWAT Sgt. Jonathan McGee and Deputy Kyle Grisham exposed themselves to great risk when they arrested the suspect wanted for murdering Robertson County Sheriff’s Deputy Savannah Puckett.

The suspect was believed armed with Puckett’s service weapon and hiding in the attic. McGee and Grisham safely took him into custody.

Sheriff Mike Fitzhugh presented McGee and Grisham the medals during the annual RCSO’s awards ceremony Thursday.

“Sgt. McGee and Deputy Grisham received the medals for the personal risk they took to arrest a wanted suspect,” Fitzhugh said. “I commend them for their selfless actions.”

Fitzhugh thanked the deputies’ families for their support. He is inspired by the work deputies do every day from random acts of kindness to placing dangerous criminals behind bars.

“Some of you found yourselves in physically and psychologically demanding situations and you remained brave and persevered,” Fitzhugh said. “You faced these things with courage and stood strong. In many cases, the people you were protecting were strangers and your selfless service resulted in positive outcomes.”

“I couldn’t be more proud,” Fitzhugh said.

Deputy Chief Britt Reed said the Sheriff’s Office has a team of dedicated deputies and staff.

“Our goal tonight is to share with you some major accomplishments, recognize some outstanding acts of courage, valor and bravery and to celebrate every day acts of service,” Reed said.

McGee and Grisham were among several deputies honored for awards in lifesaving, meritorious conduct, meritorious service and Deputies of the Month.

  • Lifesavers award and Officer of the Year Award: Deputy Nathan Smith was honored as the Officer of the Year and the Lifesaving award for saving the life of a gunshot wound victim who suffered a gunshot wound to the upper abdomen. He relied on his past training and swiftly applied a chest seal to the wound to stop the bleeding. The victim survived.
  • Lifesavers Award and Meritorious Conduct Award: Sgt. James Holloway, K9 Deputy Sarah Blair, K9 Appie, Deputy Jason Brown and Deputy Tyler Cravens responded to a call of a man suffering a mental health crisis. The man doused himself in gasoline, attempted to light himself on fire and hid in a heavily wooded area. Deputy Jared Keith piloted the Sheriff’s Office drone and guided deputies to the hidden man. While Brown negotiated with him, Blair and Appie drew his attention for a moment so Brown sprayed him with a fire extinguisher and rescued him. Sgt. Holloway and Deputy Cravens assisted.
  • Meritorious Conduct Award: Detective George Barrett, K9 Deputy Richard Tidwell and bloodhound Fred responded to Henry Horton State Park to locate a suicidal man. Within 20 minutes of arriving, Barrett, Tidwell and Fred located the man alive in a wooded area.

Deputies of the Month:

  • February: Deputy Mina Awad stopped a driver on a traffic violation who showed signs of narcotics trafficking. A K9 indicated a positive result. A search resulted in more than $350,000 cash believed collected from drug sales.
  • March: SRO Dallen Miller removed a handgun from someone during a high school basketball game. Miller’s actions saved a possible critical incident.
  • April: SRO Sam Trubee organized a bowling tournament fundraiser, collecting more than $5,000 for less fortunate children to buy school clothes.
  • May: SRO Anthony Bragg and SRO Miller responded to a shooting of two students after a high school graduation. Bragg performed first aid while Miller secured the scene. They identified the victims and the suspect, who was later located and charged. Both SROs went to the hospital to console the victims’ families.
  • June: Patrol Deputies James Elliott, Andrew Quintal and Zachary Williams learned about a Rutherford County woman who escaped from a Chattanooga jail. They obtained information leading to her location in Nashville and contacted Metro Nashville Police. Within 24 hours, the escapee was taken back into custody.
  • July: Detective Amanda McPherson’s two-year-long investigation resulted in the conviction of a man who sexually abused a 9-year-old girl. McPherson tracked the undocumented man. She obtained search warrants for DNA evidence. That evidence helped secure his conviction of two counts of aggravated sexual battery and a 20-year prison sentence.
  • August: Deputy Luis Ramirez conducted a traffic stop on an intoxicated driver. He found the passenger was a wanted felon from Bowling Green, Ky. Ramirez charged the passenger after seizing 3.5 grams of cocaine from him.
  • September: SRO Grisham took control of a fight when students gathered in a high school stairwell. He made strategic decisions and maintained a high level of professionalism to resolve the issue before the fight escalated.
  • October: Detective Dennis Ward investigated the theft of a stolen camper. He recovered the stolen camper. He also recovered a stolen axle trailer, a Kawasaki Mule and a Mustang GT convertible. Two suspects were arrested.
  • November: Sgt. Sean Vinson and Lt. Will Holton implemented a plan to combat aggressive driving on the interstates. Deputies and Tennessee Highway Patrol troopers saturated the interstates. They wrote 568 citations for aggressive or careless driving. Lt. Derek Oeser, Sgt. Trey Nunley and Dispatcher Abagail Badgett ran the operations center. They monitored and controlled all activities.

Deputies were recognized for external awards including:

NAACP Jerry Anderson Hero Award 2022: Patrol Cpl. Scott Martin, Detective Sgt. Mark Anderson, Patrol Deputy Jimmy Tedder and Detective David Ashburn

Exchange Club Officer of the Year: Patrol Deputy Nathan Smith

Tennessee Narcotics Officers Association Largest Marijuana Seizure: Detective Corey Floyd and Awards of Recognition: Detective Thomas Burnett and Sgt. Mark Anderson

Tennessee Highway Safety Office Impaired Driving Award: Deputy John Wauchek and THSO’s Beyond the Traffic Stop: Patrol Deputy James Elliott, Patrol Deputy Andrew Quintal and Patrol Deputy Zachary Williams; Deputy of the Year Patrol Deputy Kody O’Donnell and 2022 Directors Award Sheriff Mike Fitzhugh.

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