Corporal Richard Warden
Trooper Milton Brown
Congratulations to Corporal Richard Warden and Trooper Milton Brown, Troop A (Marianna) for being selected for FHP's Trooper of the Month Award for March 2004!
On March 27, 2004, at approximately 10:00 A.M., Corporal Richard Warden and Trooper Milton Brown were at the Bonifay Police Department completing a traffic fatality that had occurred earlier that morning. Trooper Brown then left and Corporal Warden remained to complete a press release.
Officer Stephen Lee, a Bonifay police officer, had just responded to a call at a residence where the situation suddenly turned violent. Officer Lee was shot by a subject at the residence, and called for assistance. Hearing of this, Corporal Warden immediately left the P.D., responded as backup, and notified Trooper Brown via radio. Trooper Brown was close and immediately responded as well.
Corporal Warden arrived first to find Officer Lee shot and on the ground. The suspect was standing in his yard with an assault rifle aimed in his direction. Corporal Warden then placed his patrol car in between the suspect and the officer in order to protect him. He then fired at the suspect to protect them both. Trooper Brown also arrived and parked in a strategic location not far from Warden. Brown then exited his vehicle with his shotgun and began working his way towards the front of the suspect's house via the ditch on the opposite side of the street. By then the suspect had retreated inside his house and was firing at both troopers repeatedly with the rifle. They returned fire as needed during the course of the entire event.
After an extensive exchange of gunfire, which ultimately included the Holmes and Washington County Sheriff's Departments, things subsided and the suspect disappeared from view. A tactical team discharged tear gas into the house and entered the dwelling after no response. They found the suspect unconscious and incapacitated on the floor.
After being up all night long, enduring this traumatic event and subsequent questioning and debriefing, both officers were not through for the day. They both insisted on traveling to Dothan, Alabama to check on their fallen comrade. Only after being able to see Officer Lee and briefly speak with him after surgery did they agree to call it a day.
It is clearly evident that both troopers placed themselves in great personal danger to save the life of a fellow officer. Had they not quickly responded, strategically placed their cars and returned fire, the consequences would have certainly been grave. Their heroic action is in the highest tradition of the Florida Highway Patrol and worthy of recognition.
Officer Lee continues to improve and is expected to fully recover. Incidentally, he is the officer credited with saving Trooper Christopher A. McAdam's life in 1998, when McAdam went into anaphylactic shock after an insect bite he received while on duty.
The suspect who shot Officer Lee died of bullet wounds suffered during the exchange of gun fire with law enforcement.