By Melissa Pinion-Whitt
San Bernardino County Sun
COLTON, Calif. — Tom Dennie stood by his wife and smiled as four officers bearing medals approached and hugged him in City Council chambers Tuesday night.
His reaction was understandable. The officers are credited with helping save Dennie's life.
"We didn't know going into it that he was going to be there, but he showed up and it was really special," said Colton police Detective Ray Mendez.
Dennie, a California Institution for Men officer who was shot in the head during an attempted robbery at a Colton gas station in May, continues to receive rehabilitation and was using a metal cane at the meeting. But Colton police Sgt. Steve Davis, one of the four officers who rescued him, said he is getting better.
Davis said Dennie recognized him when he went to a Costco store about two weeks ago. Dennie was in a wheelchair at the time.
"I know he's improved drastically since the incident," Davis said.
Davis, along with Officers Greg Castillo and Mike Collins, and Cpl. Gary Gruenzner received the Police Department's Lifesaving Medal at the City Council meeting.
Castillo, Collins and Davis were the first to arrive at the Shell gas station in the 2700 block of Iowa Avenue on May 2 after Dennie was shot by two suspected gang members.
"We saw that it was a pretty severe wound and we made the decision to swoop him up and take him to the hospital ourselves," Davis said.
Officers loaded Dennie into Davis' squad car and took him to Arrowhead Regional Medical Center. Gruenzner alerted emergency room staff at the hospital that a wounded law enforcement officer was being brought in.
Police Chief Steve Ward also credited other officers who were on shift at the time, dispatchers, Riverside police, the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department, the California Highway Patrol and Santa Fe Railroad police with helping in the case.
"The quick response and immediate actions on the part of the officers and medical staff are credited with saving Tom Dennie's life," Ward said.
The officers were also honored during the California Correctional Peace Officers' Association conference in July for their actions.
Tim Busby, warden at CIM in Chino, thanked the officers for helping Dennie.
"The word hero gets thrown around loosely, but not in this case. These gentlemen are heroes," he said.
The suspects, Christopher Marquez, 24, and Anthony Gomez Jr., 31, both Riverside residents, were arrested in Riverside about three hours after the shooting. They are scheduled to appear in San Bernardino Superior Court on Oct. 21 for a hearing.
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
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