Four Ceres police officers were honored at Monday's Ceres City Council meeting to recognize their acts of bravery during the April 12, 2012 Modesto standoff in which Sheriff's Deputy Robert "Bob" Paris, 53, was murdered along with Modesto locksmith Glendon Engert, 35.
Officers Keith Kitcher, Jason Coley, Darren Venn and Joe Wren were called forward for an overdo presentation of the coveted "chief's pin" and public commendation. All four immediately responded to the shooting scene for mutual aid.
"There's something to be said about people who willingly place themselves in danger by running towards gunfire to protect others," said Acting Police Chief Brent Smith.
The standoff occurred while Paris was serving an eviction notice at a fourplex in the Whispering Woods complex at 2141 Chrysler Drive in Modesto. He was there to serve an eviction notice on one of the residences. According to one witness, Engert was drilling the lock when the gunfire erupted, killing him and Paris. Residents told investigators the gunshots came in rapid fire.
Wren and Venn drove to Modesto and ran toward the downed victims and took positions of cover on the east side near Coley. Within seconds of arriving, with other officers, they formed two rescue teams to move in and pull the victims to a secure location. Coley and Venn left the safety of cover, ready to fire on the suspect during evacuation while Wren and a deputy entered the field of fire in an attempt to rescue Engert. Within feet of the suspect's apartment, Wren and the deputy grabbed Engert to a place where he was given medical aid in vain.
Kitcher evacuated frantic elderly women trapped on a second-floor balcony and brought them out of imminent danger.
The ambush prompted a 12-hour standoff between law enforcement and the gunman, James Ferrario, 45, who barricaded himself inside the apartment and then shot himself to death. The standoff came to a fiery end when flames erupted from the apartment. It was later determined that Ferrario was armed with 22 guns, a gas mask, ballistic armor and other tactical equipment and accessed neighboring apartments by cutting through walls in an effort to gain a tactical advantage.
Ceres Police dispatched about 20 officers and used its SWAT vehicle during the standoff. Ceres Street Crimes Unit members and police command staff also rotated in and out during the incident.