Three Rutherford County deputies earned Medals of Valor for their roles in capturing two armed escapees shooting at them June 15 after the escapees allegedly murdered two Georgia corrections officers days earlier.
Sheriff Mike Fitzhugh presented the medals to Patrol Deputies Mark Gregory, Chris Beach and George Barrett during an awards ceremony Tuesday at the Sheriff's Office.
Deputy Chief Egon Grissom described the deputies as heroic in helping to capture the escapees after a two-state manhunt. The escapees' arrests potentially stopped their crime spree.
"The deputies are commended for their courage under fire, their determination to bring criminals to justice, outstanding job performance and their professional demeanor during this incident," Grissom said. "Their determination to bring these escaped convicts to justice possibly saved numerous more lives and stopped the crime spree these escapees were on."
Gregory was patrolling on U.S. Highway 231 South (Shelbyville Highway) when his attention to detail and keen observation skills led him to spot a vehicle stolen during a home invasion of a Bedford County couple earlier that day. He confirmed the stolen vehicle and asked for backup.
As the suspects drove into Murfreesboro, they sped up. Beach and Barrett joined Gregory in trying to stop the suspects who turned onto Interstate 24.
"The subjects in the stolen vehicle began shooting at the pursuing deputies," Grissom said. "The deputies took evasive measures but continued the pursuit. All three vehicles did have gunshot damage on I-24."
While traveling on I-24, the suspects crashed into a concrete drain.
"The three deputies, again disregarding their own safety, challenged the vehicle hoping for the surrender of the occupants but they had fled on foot into the woods," Grissom said. "During this time, the deputies learned that the vehicle had been occupied by two escaped convicts from Georgia that had killed two law enforcement officers there."
Deputies helped search for the escapees and protected the crime scene. The escapees were later taken into custody with no loss of life or injuries.
Gregory joined the Sheriff's Office as a detention deputy in 2006. He transferred to the Patrol Division in 2009. He currently serves as a K-9 patrol deputy.
Beach started working in detention in 1998. He transferred to the Patrol Division in 2014.
Barrett started his career at the Sheriff's Office as a dispatcher in 1999. He worked as a Detention deputy and transferred to the Patrol Division in 2014.