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May 2009

Deputy Sheriff John L. Seifert

Boulder County (CO) Sheriff's Office

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) has announced the selection of Deputy Sheriff John L. Seifert of the Boulder County (CO) Sheriff's Office as its Officer of the Month for May 2009.

At 7:26 a.m., on December 30, 2008, emergency dispatchers at the Boulder County Sheriff's Office Communications Center received a call that the general manager at a nearby ski resort had been shot by a fellow employee, and that the suspect had fled the scene. Having been given the description of the getaway sedan, Deputy John Seifert responded to the call and observed the suspect as he approached a local school. The suspect abruptly stopped his car directly in front of a Volvo being driven by a gentleman who had planned to spend the day skiing with his 17-year-old daughter, who was also in the front seat of the car.

Deputy Seifert pulled up seconds later and wedged his patrol SUV between the two other vehicles. With his department-issued rifle in hand, Deputy Seifert exited his patrol car and noticed the suspect had rolled down the driver's side window. The deputy instructed the suspect to show his hands. Instead he was met with a barrage of bullets fired from a semi-automatic 10mm. handgun. One shot hit and shattered the cruiser's driver's side spotlight.

Using the SUV's door as cover, Deputy Seifert attempted to return fire, but the weapon would not discharge. Trained as a firearms instructor, Deputy Seifert immediately and calmly performed a "Failure Drill" to ensure that a live round would enter the chamber. He took aim at the suspect's sedan and fired through the rear window, which shattered but remained intact, thus blocking Deputy Seifert's view into the suspect's vehicle. Confident that the suspect had not had time to exit his vehicle, Deputy Seifert quickly moved around his patrol SUV to gain a better view of the suspect.

The suspect continued to fire upon Deputy Seifert, hitting his vehicle several times. Deputy Seifert radioed for back-up and moved to the right rear of his SUV. As the firefight continued, Deputy Seifert became increasingly aware of the civilian traffic around him and was concerned that an innocent bystander could become a hostage, or even worse, be shot. Suddently, the brake lights illuminated on the suspect's vehicle as Deputy Seifert fired one more shot where he believed the suspect was sitting in the driver's seat. As quickly as the firefight had begun, it ended.

The follow-up investigation revealed the suspect had been hit several times by Deputy Seifert, but in the end, ballistics confirmed that he had taken his own life. The suspect had fired 27 shots at Deputy Seifert, missing the deputy but hitting his patrol SUV at least 11 times. Investigators discovered a fully loaded .357 revolver, a .44 caliber revolver, a 10mm. Glock pistol, and several full magazines in the suspect's vehicle. Two empty magazines as well as a bloody axe were also recovered. Deputy Seifert escaped with minor injuries, and no civilians were injured.

As it turned out, the man and his daughter trapped in the Volvo during the gun battle had known the general manager murdered at the ski resort and owed their lives to their long-time friend John Seifert--now, not only a friend, but their hero as well.

For his actions that cold winter morning, Deputy Seifert was awarded the Boulder County Sheriff's Office Medal of Valor for "exhibiting extreme bravery in the face of extreme danger." Deputy Seifert has served with the Boulder County Sheriff's Office for four years and is a member of the Special Weapons and Tactics team. He is a firearms instructor, a volunteer firefighter and holds the rank of Shodan in the Japanese Karate Association. He is ranked among the "America's Most Wanted" All-Stars.

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.

Deputy Seifert, along with the other Officers of the Month for 2009, will be honored at a special awards luncheon in Washington, DC, in May 2010 during National Police Week. In addition, their stories of heroism and service will be featured in the Memorial Fund's 2011 calendar.