Twenty-five police officers, including nine from Wauwatosa, were presented Thursday with the highest honor that the Brookfield Police Department bestows.
The officers, from Tosa, Brookfield and four other area departments, were given Meritorious Service Awards for their parts in rescuing 19 women from Azana Salon and Spa on Oct. 21.
Called to confront an “active shooter” after Radcliffe Haughton murdered his wife, Zina Haughton, a stylist at the salon, and then opened fire indiscriminately at other employees and customers, the sergeants, patrol officers, detectives, deputies and one state trooper risked their lives outside and inside Azana Salon.
Two more women died of gunshot wounds, and four more were wounded, one critically. Police officers' quick response in evacuating her was credited with likely saving her life.
The ceremony took place at 3 p.m. in the Brookfield Municipal Court chambers.
After an honor guard presented the flags of the United States, Wisconsin and Brookfield, and remarks by Police Chief Daniel Tushaus and Mayor Steven Ponto, Tushaus present the award of merit to the following officers:
City of Brookfield Police Department:
- Sgt. Mark Tushaus
- Officers Frank Riederer
- Russell Prusak
- Dennis Alreuter
- Eric Bills
- Anthony Kader
- Julie Stubblefield
- Adam Behnke
Wauwatosa Police Department:
- Sgts. Jeffrey Farina
- Brian Zalewski
- Detectives Paula Roberson
- David Hoppe
- Officers Theodore Engelken
- Patrick Kaine
- Gary Raymond
- Randy Simon
- Luke Vetter
Elm Grove Police Department:
- Sgt. Ryan Unger
- Officers Sandra Brown
- Philip Doney
Waukesha County Sheriff’s Department:
- Deputies Michael Doud
- Juan Rodriguez
- Robert Faith
Wisconsin State Patrol:
- Trooper Steven Lindemann
Village of Pewaukee Police Department:
- Officer Peter Latona
Chief Tushaus praised all the officers’ actions as “above and beyond the call of normal duty” and of the assistance from other departments, he said, the “successful conclusion of a tragic incident” was “a testament to the true brotherhood of law enforcement.”
When Tushaus called Tosa Detective Roberson forward to receive her commendation, he remarked, "We'll find you a rifle."
As a detective, Roberson carries only a pistol and no ballistic vest. She made repeated trips to the spa to deliver arms and armor to other officers and for a time took up a position in the parking lot without any cover in order give cover with her pistol to officers rescuing wounded women.
Roberson wanted a rifle for herself, but could never get hold of one.
"When it was over, everybody had everybody else's equipment," Roberson told Patch. "We had an Elm Grove shield, which we gave back, and we're still missing a shotgun." (Actually, according to Capt. Jeff Sutter, the shotgun has been recovered from a different department.)
Wauwatosa Police Chief Barry Weber said, "We're fortunate we have such a good relationship with all of the departments in the area.
"Unfortunately, with all serious incidents that have occurred, we do work together more than we ever expected to, especially with Brookfield.
"They were there for us when our officer (Abby Pavlik) was shot on 124th Street a few years ago, and they were there for us when Jennifer Sebena was killed.
"They're good officers and good neighbors."
For Wauwatosa Officer Vetter, Thursday was quite a day. Not only was he among those honored for his part at Azana Salon – Vetter entered the salon and took part in the rescues of women hiding on the second floor – this was his first day on duty as a newly promoted sergeant.
"He just got through calling his first roll call," Weber said.
"It's a big new step for me," Vetter said, "after almost 12 years of patrol work. In incidents like this one (Azana) and others I've been through, those are the things that test you.
"Unfortunately, I've been tested a lot. But, you know, it sounds maudlin, but I would do it all over again with the same group of guys."
The Wauwatosa Police Department held its own honor ceremony, quietly on Jan. 9, with no dignitaries or members of the public invited, Weber said.
The officers wanted it that way, Weber said, in part because "they're a humble group" and, perhaps more so, because the department's deep wound of the loss of Officer Sebena was still far too fresh.
"Nobody really felt like having a big public celebration right then," Weber said.
The nine Wauwatosa officers who risked all at Azana Salon won, in some cases, Medals of Valor, and some, Lifesaving Badges, and in some cases, both, Weber said.