For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney Honors Law Enforcement Officials, And Bestows Award for Extraordinary Valor
SAN DIEGO – U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman will honor the work of federal, state and local law enforcement officers and bestow an award for Extraordinary Valor at the first annual Excellence in the Pursuit of Justice Awards Ceremony today.
“Serving as a law enforcement officer is demanding, dangerous, and all too often unappreciated. Many officers leave their families each day not knowing what dangers lurk ahead, because they want to make a difference. Those who have chosen this profession and who work selflessly day and night through the harshest of conditions are a special breed – they are heroes,” U.S. Attorney Braverman stated. “It is no accident that America’s Finest City is also one of America’s safest cities. The cooperation and collaboration between our federal, state and local law enforcement partners is unparalleled. Today, I honor 80 special officers who have made a difference in our community and moved the cause of justice forward.”
U.S. Attorney Braverman’s Excellence in the Pursuit of Justice Awards are being presented this afternoon to 79 agents and officers who demonstrated creativity, initiative, and persistence to achieve justice in difficult cases, including international murder investigations, counterterrorism matters, opiate diversion conspiracies, and large takedowns of gang-led drug trafficking organizations. “Each of these agents and officers demonstrated total commitment to the cause of justice and refused to give up in the face of numerous obstacles. They went above and beyond to ensure that justice was done, and in doing so they upheld the rule of law, brought justice to victims and enhanced community safety.”
In addition to the Excellence in the Pursuit of Justice Awards, U.S. Attorney Braverman will present an Award for Extraordinary Valor to Special Agent Geoffrey Rice, who works in the Carlsbad office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. SA Rice happened to be attending the Route 91 Harvest music festival in Las Vegas when he heard the unmistakable sound of rapid gunfire. A mass murderer took the lives of 58 and injured more than 500 that day.
Agent Rice was off duty and unarmed, enjoying the concert with his wife on October 1, 2017. The shooter opened fire on the large outdoor gathering of concertgoers from a high rise hotel across the street from the concert venue. In the first few moments after the shooting began there was much confusion as to the source and nature of the sound of the gunfire over the amplified music and the background noise from a crowd of thousands. Many people initially thought that the sound was firecrackers or something else innocuous.
As a result of his extensive tactical training, Agent Rice immediately recognized the sound as gunfire and correctly determined the direction from which it came. After yelling out “gunfire!” he swiftly took action to move himself and his wife to cover behind a metal sound equipment box nearby, even as others in their immediate proximity were shot. As they moved to cover, Agent Rice noticed one person who had sustained a wound to the neck, and helped carry him along to a position of cover. Agent Rice exposed himself further to the assailant’s fire to grab two young women nearby and bring them back with him to safety behind the box.
As Agent Rice and the others gathered behind the sound box, the shooter took direct aim on their cover, repeatedly shooting at it in a clear attempt to penetrate it and hit them. Agent Rice, having correctly assessed that the cover was adequate and that they were in a relatively good position, commanded everyone to stay put. Although some felt their best chance was to run for better cover, Agent Rice’s confidence was compelling. One person nearby who left cover in an attempt to flee was fatally shot.
During a lull in the shooter’s fire, Agent Rice abandoned his position of safety and with help from another person he managed to move the person with the neck injury out into the open, where he had room to lie him flat in order to assess his injuries. Fully exposed to the shooter, Agent Rice performed CPR on the injured person until it was clear that he could do nothing further. As he attempted to treat the injured person the shooter resumed fire, with bullets hitting all around them. Agent Rice only then returned to safety with the injured man.
After some time the shooting stopped and Agent Rice assessed that he and the others could leave their position, and gave them calm and commanding instructions on how to do so. Agent Rice unselfishly remained on scene and at the casualty collection area nearby, volunteering to assist first responders and collecting a statement from a potential witness.
For his heroism, Agent Rice received the Award for Extraordinary Valor during today’s ceremony.
“Agent Rice’s quick thinking and swift action, in the face of an unforeseeable event reflects on his exceptional professionalism and strength of character,” said U.S. Attorney Braverman. “His selfless choice to expose himself to a known fatal threat for an injured stranger demonstrated exceptional personal valor, and exemplifies the finest traditions of law enforcement and public service. Without question his actions saved many lives and he is a hero.”