Forsyth County Sheriff’s Lt. Tommy Hunter receives the Medal of Honor by Sheriff Ted Paxton at a ceremony Nov. 5. (click for larger version)
(click for larger version)
"While the presence of a deadly threat could have justified your use of deadly force, you chose to place yourself in harm's way because you desired a peaceful outcome to this tense situation."
Forsyth County Sheriff Ted Paxton
November 13, 2012FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — A Forsyth County Sheriff's deputy has been awarded the Medal of Honor at a ceremony Nov. 5 at the office's north precinct.
North precinct's Lt. Tommy Hunter, who has been with the office for about 19 years, was recognized because of how he handled himself during an Aug. 22 incident.
Hunter had responded to a call of a distraught 82-year-old woman, who had locked herself in a bathroom with a gun.
"Sometimes events arise, where people step forward a little bit more, as a result of that, something really good comes out of it," Sheriff Ted Paxton said during the ceremony.
Paxton said the woman had threatened to shoot deputies and had informed law enforcement that, "the only way deputies could talk to her was through her gun."
Hunter took the lead role in communicating with the woman. After nearly two hours, Hunter called SWAT team members to the scene.
The woman opened the bathroom door after Hunter told her he just wanted to see if she was okay.
"When the door opened, less than 4-feet away, stood [the woman] pointing the gun directly at you," Paxton read from Hunter's commendation letter.
Hunter kept his cool, distracted the woman and reached forward and removed the gun from the grasp of the elderly woman.
"[Hunter] quickly turned the gun upward, removed the chamber and removed the bullets," Paxton said. "While the presence of a deadly threat could have justified your use of deadly force, you chose to place yourself in harm's way because you desired a peaceful outcome to this tense situation."
Hunter received the Medal of Honor, the highest award presented to an individual employed by the agency.
It is presented only in exceptional cases where an employee risks their life while performing their duty.
Hunter later said he believed the woman was, "definitely in the mind of shooting herself, but she needed a reason and that reason would have probably been one of us if we'd come through the door.
"I think if we'd come through that door without her opening it, she would have shot one of us and then that would have been her reason to turn the gun on herself," he said.
Hunter called and followed up later with the woman's son who said, "she is doing better."