WASHINGTON, DC — The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) has announced the selection of Ranger Alexandra Burke of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management as its Officer of the Month for April 2010.
In January 2009, a gunman named Roger Sellers began shooting, sniper-style, outside of a northeastern Montana hospital. The gunman’s bullets struck and injured two individuals and, tragically, killed another. A shootout ensued between Sellers and local law enforcement, but Sellers managed to escape.
At least 50 federal, state and local law enforcement officers became involved in the search for Sellers. On a clear and cold winter night, with snow on the ground, three of those officers – U.S. Border Patrol Agent Phillip Wright, Fort Peck Tribal Police Officer Daniel McKee and Ranger Burke – worked together searching for Sellers. The officers followed tracks that led to a farmhouse that had previously been deemed as cleared. Only the tracks in the snow, marked with occasional droplets of blood, provided evidence of the wounded gunman’s retreat to the farmhouse.
The officers called for back-up and, upon their arrival, all worked methodically to follow the tracks that led along a game trail. In the lead position, Agent Wright first spotted Sellers, holding a large knife in his hand and standing next to a tree. The officers repeatedly instructed Sellers to drop his weapon, but he refused to comply, telling them instead to “go ahead and shoot.” Sellers took steps toward Agent Wright, then began running toward Ranger Burke and another officer. Acting quickly and as trained, Ranger Burke shot Sellers at close range before he could strike with the knife and cause further injuries or deaths. Sellers succumbed to the gunshot wounds. Following administrative review and a coroner’s inquest concerning the incident, the shooting was ruled as justified.
“Ranger Burke demonstrated the highest level of dedication in her actions,” wrote Shanon Mast McPherson, the National Awards Director for the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, in her letter nominating Ranger Burke for the Officer of the Month award. “She placed her own safety and security at risk in performing her duties. She displayed great bravery in the face of a most dangerous situation – confronting a suspected killer who clearly intended to do serious harm to her and other officers,” Ms,. McPherson added..
Ranger Burke continues to serve and protect the U.S. government and its citizens as a sworn federal law enforcement officer with the Bureau of Land Management. She is as a member of her agency’s Prairie Integrated Border Enforcement Team. She also belongs to the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, as well as the Bureau of Land Management Law Enforcement Officers Association.
On May 14, 2010, Ranger Burke was honored with a “Top Cop” Award from the National Association of Police Organizations. In June 2010, she will be honored with a Bravery Award by the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association.
Located in the nation’s capital, the NLEOMF is a nonprofit organization dedicated to honoring the service and sacrifice of America’s law enforcement officers. The NLEOMF Officer of the Month Program began in September 1996 and recognizes federal, state and local officers who distinguish themselves through exemplary law enforcement service and devotion to duty.
Ranger Burke, along with the other Officers of the Month for 2010, will be honored at a special awards luncheon in Washington, DC, in May 2011 during National Police Week. In addition, their stories of heroism and service will be featured in the Memorial Fund’s 2012 calendar.