PITTSBURG -- Two Pittsburg police officers were recognized for their courageous actions resulting in the arrest in February of a man who fired a gun at them.
The accolades for officers Brian Scott and Raychel Whedbee came at a City Council meeting held earlier this month. They were applauded by many of their friends, relatives and colleagues who filled the packed chamber for a presentation of city proclamations to honor them.
The Feb. 12 late-night incident occurred four days before Scott was to be married, an event at which Whedbee was going to be one of the bridesmaids. (The wedding did indeed happen as scheduled.)
"How do we as a community, how do we as a governing body say thank you (for) putting your life on the line, being engaged, staying engaged, making the arrest, letting the judicial process happen even after someone was trying to kill you both," said Councilman Pete Longmire, a former Pittsburg police officer. "It is absolutely remarkable as to the discipline and training, and the character that you both have."
State Assemblyman Jim Frazier, D-Oakley, said Scott and Whedbee "demonstrated courage under fire. You two are a credit to your profession and an outstanding example of the highly motivated and skilled men and women serving in law enforcement today who day in and day out, watch after watch, willingly place themselves in harm's way to keep our nation and our families and cities safe."
The accused shooter, Troy Aben Makanski, faces two counts of attempted murder of a police officer, among other charges. The former Oakley resident had outstanding warrants for drug and weapons charges when the officers spotted him and two other individuals on Maple Street while on patrol.
"They could tell just tell in their gut that something wasn't right, " said Chief Brian Addington in recalling that the officers believed either a vehicle break-in was going to happen or a vehicle break-in or burglary had just occurred when they saw the three suspicious-looking individuals.
After Makanski started running, the two officers gave chase before he turned around and fired a gun at Scott, who was wearing a bullet-proof vest that saved his life from a gunshot wound to the back. Both officers returned fire.
"Officer Scott's and Officer Whedbee's training immediately kicked in," Addington said. "They were able to incapacitate him and safely take him into custody."
Scott, 32, is a five-year veteran and a member of the department's SWAT team while Whedbee, 30, is a seven-year veteran, canine handler and defensive tactics instructor for the department. Both work in the street crimes unit, are field training officers and have been partners for about two-and-a-half years.
The training that officers undergo to deal with such shooting situations was essential in reacting to what happened, they said.
"There's no one actually pointing a gun at you in the training situation," Whedbee said. "But the way I reacted, I felt it was very natural, because I've done it a million times. I responded exactly the same as in training."
"It was a blink of a second for me," Scott said. "I went from running to fighting for my life."
The fact that his upcoming wedding was just days away actually turned out to be positive, he said. And there was never any thought that it should be delayed, said Scott, who married a close friend of Whedbee's.
"I didn't have time to think about what actually occurred until a couple days into the honeymoon, and then it was like 'wow,'" Scott said.
"I think it made it easier that the wedding was still going to happen," Whedbee said. "I think it actually made it easier to move on because we had so many things to do."
Contact Eve Mitchell at 925-779-7189. Follow her on Twitter.com/EastCounty_Girl.