By Lt. Christene Zoucha, AA/PIO
Deuel Vocational Institution
The James McDermott American Legion Post 172 in Tracy held its annual Law and Order dinner recognizing public safety officers and first-responders from local, state and federal law enforcement and fire agencies. Two correctional officers were recognized for heroism.
In recognition of heroic actions by Correctional Officers Brian Berghorst and Kevin Machado, they were presented a plaque from the American Legion, a certificate from Congressman Jeff Denham’s Office and a certificate from the 5th District Board of Supervisors Office Bob Elliott.
Over 200 people attended the March 25 event including Tracy City Mayor Robert Rickman, Deuel Vocational Institution (DVI) acting Warden Kimberly A. Seibel and 5th District County Supervisor Bob Elliott.
Agencies being recognized were the Tracy Police and Fire departments as well as the Defense Logistics Agency in each of those deparments, the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office, the Tracy Office of the California Highway Patrol and CDCR.
Officer Berghorst and Machado were supported by family, friends and DVI co-workers during the ceremony which recognized their heroic acts of subduing a fleeing robbery suspect and shooting a knife-wielding person.
On April 5, 2016, a fleeing robbery suspect jumped into the wrong backyard when he selected the home of Officer Berghorst. Officer Berghorst was enjoying an evening of watching TV with his family when his wife yelled there was someone in their backyard.
Officer Berghorst spotted the man jumping the fence into a neighbor’s backyard. Officer Berhorst ran out his front door looking for the fleeing suspect. A short time later, he spotted the suspect running away between two houses. Officer Berghorst chased the suspect another block-and-a-half and was just about to tackle him when the suspect broke right and headed for a fence on the opposite side of the yard.
Officer Berghorst caught up to the suspect, who started to throw punches at him. The officer avoided his blows and blocked his punches. He grabbed the suspect and took him to the ground, holding him in a prone position. City of Ripon Chief of Police Ed Ormonde was the first to arrive and assisted Officer Berghorst in detaining the suspect until other responding officers arrived.
The fleeing man was part of a larger group who had robbed a nearby Walgreens only minutes earlier.
According to the Ripon Police Department’s press release on the incident, “Ripon Police Chief Ormonde arrived on scene within 90 seconds (of the robbery report) and he located the suspect vehicle. Four suspects fled from the vehicle and officers were involved in a short foot pursuit. The suspects ran through several backyards, damaging fences in their attempt to elude officers.”
Four suspects were taken into custody. Prescription drugs containing hydrocodone and promethazine stolen from the Walgreens pharmacy were recovered in the suspects’ vehicle. The prescription drugs had an estimated street value of over $10,000. Marijuana was also located in the vehicle. One of the suspects who fled from officers was found to be in possession of cocaine.
On July 28, 2016, at approximately 5 p.m., Gary Harlan Scott, stole a knife from the Costco store in Modesto and threatened employees and shoppers. Costco employees evacuated the store and forced Scott out of the store by creating a barrier with shopping carts and other objects.
Correctional Officer Kevin Machado approached Scott outside the store, drew his concealed weapon, identified himself as a peace officer and ordered Scott to drop the knife. Scott jabbed the knife multiple times at Officer Machado, and lunged at him several times.
Scott continued to pursue him, getting within five to eight feet of the officer. That’s when Officer Machado fired a single shot, hitting Scott. The suspect fell to the ground and a Costco employee kicked the knife away.
Scott was released from the hospital on Aug. 8 and was charged with two counts of assault with a deadly weapon and one count of robbery. He later pleaded no contest to one count of assault.