Original article no longer available
By Jason Kristufek
September 29, 2004
NEVADA – Story County Sheriff Paul Fitzgerald honored a few of his own on Tuesday for actions he believes saved a life and ended an armed standoff peacefully.
Sgt. Barry Thomas accepted an award for Story County’s seven-member Emergency Response Team. Thomas is the team commander.
Sgt. Dave Lekwa was given a commendation and also accepted an award as the commander of the negotiation unit, which includes Deputy Kevin McKinley.
The awards were presented Tuesday during the Story County Board of Supervisors meeting.
“My chest was so swelled that day,” Fitzgerald said. “I was proud of each and every one of them. They did a remarkable job.”
A week ago, a Nevada man kept two law enforcement agencies at bay for about 11 hours. The man was holed up inside his home with a high-powered rifle threatening to harm himself.
Lekwa and McKinley negotiated with the man for hours and convinced him to surrender.
The Emergency Response Team secured the perimeter of the scene, inserted a communication link into the home and took the man into custody once he surrendered.
“This was a week where we saw our training and equipment that is not often used turn a dangerous situation into a very positive outcome,” Fitzgerald said.
He pointed to an article printed in the Omaha World-Herald last week that ran under a headline reading, “Man killed in standoff was troubled.” In that case, an armed man was shot and killed by police.
The man was reportedly upset after being separated from his wife and child. Police were called after someone reported the man had been drinking and taking antidepressant pills.
“The situation almost mirrors what we had here in Nevada,” Fitzgerald said. “That is why I am very proud of the way our people handled this incident.”