Sheriff Knight Holds Award Ceremony

NEWS RELEASE 18-194 - NOVEMBER 29, 2018
awards group photo
Back row from left: Trooper Alex Botello, Deputies Kyle Poinsett, Britton Turner, Joshua Welge, Sergeant Eric Alvarez, Sergeant Xavier Beorlegui and Detective David Tuck.
Front row from left: Deputies Brian Schroth, Colin McCormick, Stacy Brandau, Venice Police Sergeant Eugene Frangioni, Deputies Michael Nickerson and Robert Brinton, Creative Communications Specialist Doug Johnson and Sheriff Tom Knight.

Sheriff Tom Knight presented several awards during a ceremony Thursday to recognize employees who have demonstrated exemplary service to the community.
Deputies Kyle Poinsett, Britton Turner and Colin McCormick received the Life Saving Award for their heroic efforts while responding to the report of a missing elderly woman. Deputies were notified by the woman’s husband that she left earlier in the day to take her dog for a walk but never returned. Deputies searched the neighborhood, community center, and nearby hospitals to no avail. As they continued their investigation, deputies asked the woman’s husband to contact their daughter who lives in Atlanta, to see if she heard from her mother. The daughter reminded her father that the missing woman had a key to their neighbor’s home, so deputies contacted the neighbor in Providence, Rhode Island, to locate a key to unlock the door. The homeowner gave deputies permission to forcefully open the door where they immediately located the missing woman face down on the living room floor. Deputies rendered life-saving efforts including CPR until paramedics arrived. The woman gained a pulse and was transported to the hospital where physicians determined she overdosed on prescription medication. Deputies Poinsett, Turner and McCormick are recognized for conducting a thorough investigation and using sound judgement in order to save this woman’s life.

Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Alex Botello received a Certificate of Recognition for his efforts to thwart an organized crime group responsible for major theft throughout Sarasota County. On September 3, 2018, several vehicle burglaries occurred at Sarasota County hotels near the 1-75 corridor where expensive construction equipment and sporting goods were stolen. Trooper Botello was on patrol in the north Fort Myers area early the next day when he initiated a traffic stop on a Hyundai minivan traveling southbound at a high rate of speed. During the traffic stop, Botello noticed the attached license plate was reported stolen. During his investigation, Botello placed the driver and passenger under arrest for driver's license violations as well as the stolen tag. An inventory of the vehicle yielded several construction tools, sporting goods, and electronics. Botello proactively began running the serial numbers of some of the items and soon learned they were reported stolen out of Sarasota and Hillsborough counties. With this new information, Botello seized the minivan and began applying for a search warrant. He immediately began communicating with surrounding law enforcement agencies including the sheriff’s office, and invited detectives to the FHP station in Fort Myers to assist with the search warrant. Thanks to Botello's steadfast and proactive efforts, nearly all the items stolen during the burglaries in Sarasota County were recovered and returned to the victims. The suspects in this case are believed to be responsible for burglaries and thefts all over the state of Florida. As such, Trooper Botello is recognized with a Certificate of Recognition.

Detective David Tuck received the Heroic Achievement Award for his efforts on July 15, 2018, while on vacation in Glendale, Arizona. Tuck and his family were enjoying the day swimming in the pool when they heard a loud scream from a nearby residence. As they looked around to see where the noise was coming from, they observed dark billowing smoke in the sky. Detective Tuck quickly exited the pool and ran towards the neighboring residence engulfed in flames, to make sure everyone made it to safety. Upon his arrival, the homeowner advised her father was still inside and unable to exit due to being oxygen-dependent. Without hesitation, Detective Tuck entered the burning home, risking his life to save a stranger. As he entered the home, Tuck heard the voice of a younger male in the back of the house attempting to bring the trapped man to safety. Through combined efforts, Tuck and the Good Samaritan were able to remove the man from the home as explosions began to occur due to the growing fire. As they exited the house, the three men still found themselves in danger as the fire grew and became more intense, ultimately trapping them in the back yard surrounded by a six-foot-high block fence. They quickly and innovatively used a lawn chair to lift the man along with his oxygen tank over the fence, finally reaching safety. During a ceremony in the fall, the Glendale Fire Department recognized Detective Tuck and all who helped during this terrifying incident. If not for Detective Tuck’s bravery, would have not likely survived.

Deputy Joshua Welge received the Life Saving Award for his efforts on August 8, 2018, to save a man following an attempted suicide. The victim's wife reported her 57-year-old husband sent her text messages and photos alluding to taking his own life by hanging. Deputy Welge was first to respond and attempted to make entry into the garage however, the main door was down, and the exterior door was locked. Deputy Welge looked in the garage window and confirmed the victim was hanging by an electrical cord, suffering obvious signs of an attempted suicide. Welge ran to the front of the home and kicked in the front door, eventually gaining access to the inside of the home and eventually, the garage. Welge worked quickly to cut the electrical cord while paramedics held the victim who was limp and unconscious. Together, first responders lowered the victim to the floor while Deputy Welge cut the noose that was bound tightly around the victim’s neck. Once the victim's airway was free, he began coughing up blood and breathing on his own. The victim regained consciousness and was transported to the hospital where he survived. The quick actions of Deputy Welge and paramedics ultimately resulted in the preservation of this man’s life.

Deputies Colin McCormick and Staci Brandau received the Life Saving Award for their efforts to save a man who suffered an overdose. On September 21, 2018, Deputies McCormick and Brandau were dispatched to the area of Center Road and the U.S. 41 Bypass in Venice for an unconscious male in the driver seat of a vehicle. Sgt. Eugene Frangioni with the Venice Police Department was first to respond and found the man’s vehicle stopped at a traffic light. Because all the doors were locked, Sgt. Frangioni smashed the passenger's side window. Deputies McCormick and Brandau arrived and noticed the man was struggling to breath with a faint pulse. McCormick entered the vehicle and administered three doses of his agency-issued naloxone however, first responders saw no improvement in the man’s condition. Sgt. Frangioni, Deputies McCormick and Brandau then removed the man from the car and placed him on his back in the roadway. Brandau began providing rescue breaths while McCormick cut the man’s shirt off to start CPR and connect defibrillator pads. The man soon began breathing and regaining a faint pulse as paramedics arrived. He was transported to the hospital where he recovered thanks to the quick actions of Deputies McCormick and Brandau, as well as Sgt. Frangioni of the Venice Police Department.

Deputies Brian Schroth and Robert Brinton received the Life Saving Award for their efforts to revive a man who suffered a heroin overdose. On September 11, 2018, deputies responded to a home in south Venice where they found a man unresponsive on the living room floor. A witness told deputies the man injected heroin prior to losing consciousness. Deputy Schroth immediately deployed two doses of his agency-issued naloxone and began chest compressions. Deputy Brinton administered a third dose which allowed the man to regain consciousness. Paramedics arrived and transported the man to the hospital for evaluation and treatment. Had it not been for the quick actions of Deputies Schroth and Brinton, this man would likely have succumbed to his ingestion of heroin.

Sergeants Jason Mruczek and Xavier Beorlegui, as well as Deputies Eric Alvarez, Daniel Ivanov (not pictured) and Michael Nickerson received the Heroic Achievement Award for their actions to rescue a woman from imminent danger during a residential shooting. Deputies initially responded to a home on Contento Street on Siesta Key, for the report of a shooting inside a residence. The victim, who was a female acquaintance of the suspect, was locked in a bathroom and hiding under a sink utilizing text-to-911 to communicate with law enforcement. Less than five minutes after the call was dispatched, deputies arrived and established a perimeter. Sergeant Mruczek attempted to contact the suspect by phone but was unsuccessful. Minutes later, deputies heard a gunshot come from the west side of the residence. The victim's text messages became more frantic as she began to plead for help. Due to volatility of the situation and likelihood of a hostage situation with a barricaded suspect, the agency’s SWAT Team was activated. Because of the rapidly evolving and dangerous situation the victim was in, a decision was made by deputies to attempt to retrieve the victim from the exterior bathroom window. Without hesitation, Sergeants Mruczek and Beorlegui led deputies toward the residence and attempted to contact the victim to no avail. Sergeant Beorlegui then used a sledgehammer to smash the window so the victim could be rescued. After the window was accessed and the blinds pulled away, deputies encountered the suspect. Sergeant Beorlegui gave verbal commands to the suspect to lie down on the bed while Deputy Alvarez assisted with containing him. Within the bedroom, there were four handguns and two rifles that the suspect could have easily obtained prior to being handcuffed. Upon breaching the window, it became apparent the victim was hiding in another room in the house. Although the suspect was complying with verbal commands, deputies were unable to apprehend the suspect without breaching another entry point. This is when deputies including Michael Nickerson, used a sledgehammer at the rear of the home, to breach an exterior door leading to the bedroom where the suspect was located. Deputy Nickerson forced entry into the narrow portion of the broken window and climbed through. Realizing the danger, deputies determined another entry point was necessary to rescue the victim and apprehend the suspect. Deputy Ivanov and Sergeant Mruczek approached the locked front door and used a shield to force entry. Deputies heard the victim pleading for help and eventually rescued her from the master bathroom and placed the suspect into custody. Each deputy involved exhibited extraordinary heroism by leaving positions of cover and concealment to approach and enter the home in order to save the victim. The suspect was taken into custody and charged with two counts of Shooting into a Dwelling. Investigation revealed he fired three bullets from the residence and between 10 and 15 rounds inside the home, using a 9MM handgun. He admitted to firing the weapon and attributed the crime to hallucinations. 

Creative Communications Specialist Doug Johnson received the Meritorious Achievement Award for his contributions, agency-wide, in both 2017 and 2018. Johnson joined the sheriff’s office in 2015 and has made a significant impact on the agency’s Community Affairs Office. He played a crucial role in the agency’s relocation in late 2017, to its new Sarasota headquarters to include: conceptualizing, researching, pricing and building the agency’s new in-house television studio from scratch; equipping the community conference room with advanced technology, professional lighting and sound equipment, installing a mult-box to streamline the process for news media during news conferences, and more. Johnson also photographed, designed, printed and framed an estimated 200 internal posters that hang on the walls of the new headquarters and at satellite locations. One of Johnson’s most outstanding projects in 2018 was to re-take individual photos of nearly 1,000 agency members. He took a lead role in researching and purchasing lighting, backdrops, lenses and flags to ensure every portrait looked professional and consistent. Over the course of three weeks, Johnson adjusted his schedule traveling between three locations, working afterhours and on weekends, to accommodate every sheriff’s office employee. Johnson was also responsible for ensuring every agency member’s uniform was pressed and in accordance with agency requirements and general orders. Since Johnson has taken on the responsibility of agency portraits, he has also built a mini photo studio that will serve the agency’s needs for years to come. Johnson remains a crucial part of the sheriff’s office and it’s storytelling and as such, is deserving of the Meritorious Achievement Award.

“This is a tremendous day for several great sheriff’s office members,” said Sheriff Tom Knight. “Part of what makes today so special is the humility these men and women show when they are praised for a job well done and simply respond with, ‘I was just doing my job.’ These individuals are the epitome of what it means to selflessly serve your community.”