AUGUSTA – Whether it was for saving an infant from a man with an assault rifle, finding a bloodied child in the road and quickly bringing him to a hospital, or uncovering buried evidence that cracked open a two-year-old homicide case, residents honored Thursday by the Maine State Police definitely deserved to be called heroes.
Three residents were recognized for their outstanding actions along with a bevy of state troopers and police officers.
The most emotional moment of the day came when Adrienne Tucker, 11, accepted her award for saving her baby sister’s life last November when her mother’s boyfriend allegedly attacked her mother and shot her teenage brother to death.
The dozens of police officers in attendance at Thursday’s ceremony gave the girl a standing ovation when she accepted the Maine State Police Award for Bravery.
Wearing a bright pink skirt and tiny braids in her hair, Tucker said after the ceremony that she didn’t feel like a hero.
“It was scary,” she said, recalling how she was awakened early Nov. 28 to her mother screaming, “Todd’s going crazy. We have to get out of here.”
According to police reports, Todd Curry, her mother’s boyfriend, attacked Tucker’s mother, April Cooley, first with a fireplace poker and later with the butt of an AK-47 assault rifle. Tucker, who was 10 at the time, awakened her brother, Anthony Tucker, 13, then ran to her infant sister’s crib and scooped her up.
“She ran with a 20-pound baby for a quarter of a mile,” Cooley said Thursday.
As Adrienne Tucker carried the baby from the Palmyra home she reportedly heard gunfire and turned to witness Curry shoot her brother in the head and kill him.
In mid-July, Curry, who is awaiting trial for murder, changed his plea from not guilty to not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect.
Holding the award after Thursday’s ceremony, Adrienne Tucker said, “It’s nice.”
Another Maine resident, Thomas Harrison of Mexico, received the Colonel’s Award for stopping on Swift River Road in Buxton last June when he saw a badly injured boy. The boy, Tyler Richard, 9, apparently had accidentally shot himself in the chest, and Harrison brought him to Rumford Hospital for treatment.
Because Harrison acted so quickly, Tyler is expected to make a full recovery, police said Thursday.
The third resident recognized was Randy Huntley of Pownal who stopped to investigate disturbed ground on property he cares for. It turned out that key evidence in an unsolved double homicide had been buried in the spot, including the victim’s wallet and a bat that was determined to be the murder weapon. Two men later were convicted of murder based on the evidence Huntley uncovered, according to police.
Trooper of the Year honors went to Larry Rose of Troop A in Alfred. Rose was recognized for his keen dedication. In 2006, Rose investigated 782 complaints, 14 fatal accidents, and 11 crashes with serious personal injury. He is also an internationally certified accident reconstructionist.
Other troopers and officers recognized Thursday were:
. Trooper Seth Edwards and his K-9 Boris who apprehended a man during a domestic dispute in Penobscot County. The man fired on Edwards with a flare gun and then tried to choke the dog.
. Troopers David Pelletier, Mark Barney and Sgt. Bill Harwood for apprehending a depressed and suicidal man in the Augusta Wal-Mart last April. The troopers negotiated with the man for 21/2 hours before convincing him to give up.
. Todd Tolhurst, director of development for InfoME, which maintains the Maine Sex Offender Registry, for quickly making a link between the murders of two convicted sex offenders and the Web site and shutting it down to prevent further killings. A man in Milo and another in Corinth were shot and killed in April 2006 by a man who fled and boarded a bus in Bangor. He later killed himself when police approached the bus in Boston.
. Houlton Police Department Detective Jim Skehan, who now works for the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency, provided invaluable assistance to the Maine State Police after the killing of a woman in a Houlton motel room in December 2005.
. Trooper Dan Marquis for placing a drunken and distraught man in custody, despite being shot at, in August 2006 at Madawaska.
. Deputy U.S. Marshal William Marr and Sgt. Michael Sauschuck of the Portland Police Department for their role in containing an armed and dangerous fugitive from Pennsylvania in June 2005 on the Maine Turnpike.
. The members of the Maine State Police Tactical Team for safely rescuing 11 teenagers from a home where a man was armed with a gun in April 2006 in Buxton. The team comprises Sgt. William Keith, Sgt. Erik Baker, Lt. Christopher Coleman, Detective Christopher Harriman, Detective Christopher Tremblay, Sgt. Nicholas Grass and Troopers Scott Hamilton, Tom Pickering and Seth Edwards, and Edwards’ K-9 Boris.
. Trooper Richard Maguire for chasing and apprehending a bank robber and retrieving the stolen money in April 2006. Maguire twice waded through a swamp to recover the money and the weapon used in the heist.
. Troopers Scott Nichols and Randall Keaton for apprehending a man who was firing at them after a domestic situation in Jay in June 2006.
. Trooper Lee Vanadestine was presented the Military Service Award for serving 16 months in Iraq with the Maine Army National Guard 3rd Battalion, 172nd Mountain Infantry Company.
. Sgt. Royal Spoffard received a posthumous award for valor in a shootout with five men in Kittery who had escaped from the South Windham Reformatory. Despite being shot in the neck, Spoffard continued his pursuit of the vehicle and eventually captured all five men.
. Trooper Scott Ireland who saved historic documents and equipment at the Natanis Golf Course in Vassalboro a year ago when the building caught on fire.
The awards were presented by Gov. John Baldacci, Commissioner of Public Safety Ann Jordan and Maine State Police Col. Patrick Fleming.