Medal of Valor


On September 29th, 2003, along with other law enforcement officers, I assisted in the rescue of two detectives wounded by gunfire, one seriously, from a murder suspect.  I was awarded the Medal of Valor by the New Jersey State Chiefs of Police Association along with Valor Awards from the New Jersey State Police Benevolent Association, and the Galloway Township Police Department.  The medal is my most prized law enforcement accomplishment.  I cherish it not because I received the award, but to be a part of saving a seriously injured friend, co-worker, and fellow law enforcement officer and in knowing he would eventually return to his family and friends.  I am thankful he had the strength to survive the incident.  The medal is a beacon of his strength.  The cooperative efforts from various members of law enforcement shined under tremendous pressure.  During my law enforcement career I have received various recognition to include awards for distinguished service, multiple unit citations, educational achievement, good conduct, ad was Officer of the Year while working as a Patrol Officer for Franklin Township Police.  I have received awards from the National Leukemia Society, Mentor of the Year for Delsea Regional School District, along with multiple appreciation presentations.

The following news article posted after the 2003 shooting incident explains the ordeal.

GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP, N.J. — A shooting rampage that began in a bar Sunday night and ended in a trailer home yesterday left four people dead and three others wounded, including two police officers.

The suspected gunman was believed to be among the three people found dead in the trailer after a 6 1/2-hour standoff with police, Atlantic County Prosecutor Jeffrey S. Blitz said in a statement last night. Police fired no shots during the siege.

Among the wounded, Atlantic City Police Detective Joseph McFadden and a bar patron were reported in critical condition last night. Scores of police officers laid siege to Gary Heiland’s trailer after a shotgun blast felled McFadden and Galloway Township Police Officer Ken Buck as they and other investigators showed up at the Pomona Campground about 8 a.m. to question Heiland about a barroom shooting hours earlier. McFadden, a 22-year veteran assigned to the Prosecutor’s Office for the last seven years, was hit in the face and flown to Cooper Hospital-University Medical Center in Camden. He underwent surgery and was in critical but stable condition last night. Buck, a six-year veteran of his department, was treated for a neck wound at the Atlantic City Medical Center-City Division and released.

The two officers were investigating a shooting that critically wounded Martin Duran Roman and Victor Manuel Alvarez Perez at 10 p.m. Sunday at Kennedy’s Bar, a half-mile from the trailer on Route 30, Blitz said. Roman, 23, of Galloway Township, died yesterday afternoon at the Atlantic City Medical Center. Perez was in critical condition there last night. Both men worked at the Galloway Diner on Route 30 and regularly visited Kennedy’s on Sunday nights to drink beer and play pool. Police evacuated more than 100 residents during the standoff at the campground, near Atlantic City International Airport. Neighbors said Heiland, 48, a pipe fitter, had kept a small cache of firearms in the trailer and was considered a good shot. They also described him as a heavy drinker.

Attempts by authorities to talk to the gunman and anyone else in the trailer were unsuccessful throughout the day, Blitz said. At 1 p.m., a state police robot with a camera knocked its way into the trailer, and a telephone was tossed in, the prosecutor said. Ninety minutes later, tactical teams entered the trailer and found the bodies of two men and a woman. Two shotguns were next to one of the men. A law enforcement official said the woman was believed to be Heiland’s girlfriend. Bob Strayhall, a neighbor who had known Heiland for about four years, said Heiland had changed after a hospital visit about three months ago. Strayhall said Heiland had told him that he had hepatitis C. ”After that, his mind wasn’t right,” Strayhall said. “When he came back from the hospital, he wasn’t the same, and he would mumble a lot.”

The shootings at Kennedy’s Bar were unprovoked, said Lucille Connolly, its owner. Connolly said that Heiland was not a regular at Kennedy’s, but that his girlfriend was a waitress at her family’s Pomona Diner next door to the bar. After entering the roadhouse on Sunday night, Heiland ordered a whiskey drink, put a $50 bill on the bar, and asked the barmaid whether a woman with black hair had been in, Connolly said. The barmaid told Heiland that a woman with long black hair had been in to buy package goods shortly before. Then, Connolly said, Heiland took his drink into the separate room where the two diner workers were playing pool, smashed the glass on the pool table, and started shooting. Connolly, who lives upstairs from the bar, said she had counted six shots.

“It’s like he went off,” she said. “He didn’t know them, and they didn’t know him.” Besides shooting the men, the assailant stabbed one of them, Blitz said. One victim staggered a few yards to the jukebox in the bar while the other was found under the pool table, Connolly said. Yesterday afternoon, the blue bicycle that belonged to one of them remained chained to a railing outside the bar.