SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - On January 13, 1970 Santa Barbara Police detective H. Thomas Guerry was shot and killed in the line of duty during a shootout with armed robbers from Maryland on a cross-country crime spree that ended in Santa Barbara.
On Wednesday, Guerry's sister Arlisse "Billie" Pryor of Camarillo and her grandson and great-grandson watched as eight officers received H. Thomas Guerry awards for valor or superior performance in the line of duty.
"This day is a really important day to me because it remembers my brother, and the sacrifice he made and every time there are other officers killed in the line of duty I realize what an emotional thing happens with their family," said Pryor.
She said it seems like only a few years ago.
"I have attended almost all of these, my mom and dad attended them until they passed away," Pryor said.
Her sister, who used to attend, has since passed away too.
"I'm kind of the last leaf on the tree," she said.
Custody Deputy Zachary Salce received the Guerry Award for Valor. He is currently assigned in the main jail. While off-duty last November, Salce and his girlfriend, Maddison Henslin, saved a neighbor from a burning apartment in Vandenberg Village. The woman made a full recovery from burns and smoke inhalation.
Santa Barbara Patrol Officer Edward Kasper received the Guerry Award for Valor as well.
Just two months into his solo patrol officer shift, Kasper saved the life of a suicidal subject who attempted to hang himself in the Santa Barbara City College parking lot. Kasper climbed on the hood of his car and gave a witness his pocket knife and directed the citizen to cut the man down while he held his body up. He reassured the man, who was bleeding from the nose, and told him to breathe. The man survived.
Guerry awards were also given to officers for superior performance including Santa Maria Patrol Sergeant Brian Dickey, Santa Barbara Police Detective Megan Harrison, Deputy District Attorney Anne Nudson, Deputy Probation Officer David Arnold and California Highway Patrol K9 officer Julie Nelson.
Nelson brought her K9 Eddy to the award ceremony in the Santa Barbara County administration building on Wednesday afternoon.
All of the recipients were nominated by their superiors.