Lisa Hoppenjans, Staff Writer
The News & Observer
PITTSBORO- Except in training exercises, Cpl. Brad Clewis had never fired his weapon in nearly four years as a Chatham County sheriff's deputy.
But on an October night, with a raging bull charging toward him and another deputy trapped in the animal's path, Clewis fired five times, killing the animal.
Clewis was awarded the Medal of Valor this month by Chatham Sheriff Richard Webster for actions that "potentially saved the life of Deputy Raymond Barrios and others who were present." Barrios, who was helping to contain the bull, received a Purple Heart.
Barrios, Clewis and a few other deputies had been hired by the N.C. Sports Arena in Goldston to provide security Oct. 21. The arena, which hosts Hispanic bands and rodeos - often simultaneously - hires off-duty deputies to make sure people don't sneak in without paying.
The deputies arrived about 7 p.m. Things were pretty routine until just before midnight, when Barrios saw a crowd of people running, a bull behind them.
The bull ran outside, eluding two men who tried to lasso it. It snorted and bucked in the parking lot, weaved between parked cars and circled the building.
Deputies wanted to keep it from running onto busy U.S. 421, where it could collide with a car.
The bull charged Clewis, who was trapped against a car. He fired two shots at the animal. One bounced off its forehead; the other hit its throat. The bull rammed its shoulder into Clewis' chest.
Barrios dived for cover, lying on the ground as close as possible to a Ford Mustang. The bull stepped on him, breaking his pelvis, then used its head - it had no horns - to butt Barrios' chest.
It walked away, then came back toward Barrios. Clewis fired three shots at its chest as it charged past.
The bull stumbled between two patrol cars, collapsed and died.
"After the bull went down, they were like, 'You didn't have to shoot my bull,' " Clewis said. "But my partner's laying between two cars, and he can't get up. I'm not much worried about their bull."
Barrios also suffered a cracked rib and broken finger. He returned to work Nov. 30 on light duty.
"We're just lucky things worked out like they did," he said. "Another couple of inches, he could have stepped on my back."
Copyright 2006 The News and Observer
N.C. deputy honored for saving partner from raging bull