Personal safety was put at the back of their minds as Waxahachie Police officers Brent Dunn and Brandon Gilbert worked to save a life of a stabbing victim. For their actions, Dunn was awarded the department’s medal of valor and Gilbert received a commendation.
The two were dispatched to an aggravated assault in the 200 block of Bent Creek Drive on Sept. 5. Before heading to the call, the pair had just wrapped up another call they had responded on together.
“It was a pretty typical day on patrol. We received a call of a disturbance. Started heading that way and as we were in route, we started to get some updated information that there was possibly a female subject that had been stabbed. The daughter of that subject had called in and was talking to us,” Dunn said. “Once we arrived we got out of the car. At this point, we had some unconfirmed information that there might have been a subject inside with a gun. My partner, officer Gilbert, and myself went up with guns on the house not knowing what we had inside.”
Gilbert shared that when he got out of his patrol vehicle and took his rifle out due receiving information that there might be a person inside the residence with a gun. He then provided cover for Dunn who then provided aid to the injured person in the front yard. They then saw the victim’s daughter sitting nearby, crying while on the phone.
“I could hear the victim mumbling and everything but I could not hear anything coherent as far as words or anything that she was saying. I provided cover on the front door and the windows,” Gilbert said. "Brent was able to pick her up. Brent, he is in good shape, but he is not a towering figure. He was able to pick her up. We got her across the road behind the car. I was behind my patrol car providing cover while he attended to the victim.”
Dunn stated, at this point, medical personnel had not arrived on scene and radio calls were made asking for assistance. In an effort to stop the bleeding, Dunn used a medical kit that all officers are issued. He shared that in those moments is when you have to rely on your fellow officers for help.
“It is one of those things where you trust your (fellow) officer to keep their eyes on the house. I was doing what I had to do with our victim. I did what I could and provided some medical attention. We carry personal trauma packs on us. I started trying to apply pressure and address the wound the best that I could,” Dunn shared. “At the same time, we are trying to tell the fire department and the ambulance to stage down the street because we can’t have them come up if we have got a barricaded subject.”
Gilbert noted that the fire department, medical personnel with AMR, and fellow officers arrived on the scene within minutes but at the time the minutes seemed to pass a lot slower. He also stated that it is the unknown factors, such as where the assailant is, that are troubling.
“We never saw him. We saw her and her clothes were solid red. That was the problem. Brent could not find the wound. There was blood everywhere. When we got to the door, the door was shut. Some of the curtains were open, but there was no movement. We didn’t hear anything,” Gilbert recalled. “As far as time lapse goes, it was five to seven minutes to when we got the call and when we were on scene. We never saw him at all. There was no contact. The not knowing is what scares you the most. If you can see him and talk with him and any kind of communication is great. When he does not respond to phone calls, and you do not see any type of movement in the house, it worries you.”
After seeing the fire truck coming up the road behind them, Dunn, with Gilbert providing cover, carried the victim about 160 yards down the street to awaiting medical personnel. Upon reaching the location, the victim was still alive, breathing, and responsive. The victim later passed away from injuries at the hospital.
“We have some of the basic with immediate trauma and that kind of stuff. I know that I did everything I could of that day with any kind of medical aid that I could have provided,” Dunn said. “The paramedics and EMTs on the scene were great and very reassuring. A couple of them pulled me aside and told me that you did all that you could. If she had a chance, you gave it to her. They saw her pretty quick and understood exactly how severe it was.”
After getting the victim to medical care, Dunn and Gilbert then took posts watching the perimeter of the residence during the call.
“The corner that I was watching was a shower window, and it faces the exterior of the house. It has that fog on it was where you can’t see in it, or you can’t see out of it. You don’t know if he can see you through that window,” Gilbert explained. “It was when SWAT came and threw gas canisters through there after two-three hours of no communications is when they took one of those windows out where I could see into it. It was like a bathroom and a hallway of a bedroom from my vantage point. So that eased a little bit after that.”
Gilbert continued, stating he could feel the tension of the call several times when he was relieved by another officer for a break. He described the tiredness in his arms and shoulders from holding his rifle and that he often felt as if his boots would stick to the pavement due to the heat.
One of the things that Gilbert was concerned about early on was the residents in the neighborhood and first responders.
“If he (the suspect) is willing to do something like that to a person that he loves in front of a daughter what is he going to do to any of us or anybody else in the neighborhood?. By then people when they see lights and sirens and hear commotion the first instinct is to walk outside and see what is going on," Gilbert noted.
Dunn also took a post to stand watch on the home after grabbing his rifle from his vehicle. After no communication with the suspect Dunn, who is a member of the department’s SWAT, suited up and made entry into the home with fellow SWAT officers. He noted that making entry into a residence is the last option that used is by law enforcement when others options have not been successful.
“It is kind of nerve-wracking anytime you make entry into a house because of that factor of not knowing what to expect inside. We train regularly for that kind of stuff. Everybody does their job and everybody went home. It is kind of an instinctual thing,” Dunn shared. “Once you go in everyone knows their role and knows what they are supposed to do. We are very fortunate to have a very strong team that was able to work together.”
Lt. Todd Woodruff stated previously that when the SWAT team entered the residence, they found the 62-year-old man already deceased from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
AFTER THE CALL
Dunn and Gilbert both stated that once the call had ended, the stress hit them both in a wave.
“One of the things that you learn in the academy is you learn about the adrenalin dump. I have experienced it a couple of times. This one was pretty intense,” Gilbert remembered. “After everything was done and we were able to go back and do our reports and everything I remember sitting in the car. I had a rag that I had doused with water and remember feeling tired immediately.”
Dunn shared the same type of feelings after clearing the scene and going home.
“Once we got through the house and cleared it and the threat was gone and everything was safe and secure, it is just kind of that point where everything kind of calms down and you can relax,” Dunn stated. “Having that period where you can take a deep breath and relax was nice, but at the same time, everything is hitting. Everything kind of hits you all at once.”
Dunn and Gilbert shared that both family members and fellow officers were there to help them following the call and provided support.
The two were honored by the department along with several other officers for their actions on Nov. 1.
“I was pretty shocked. I had several people tell me that I had a blank face. I didn’t expect it at all and certainly not the particular award that I got. It is honoring and humbling,” Dunn said. “Knowing what this award, the medal of valor, means and knowing a couple other guys in the field at other departments that have received it, how few and how infrequently this award is given out, the gravity of it all it is pretty overwhelming. It is just an extremely humbling experience. I’m very honored that the department felt that I was worthy of it.”
Gilbert shared Dunn’s thoughts about being recognized for his actions on the call.
“It is great. This is my first commendation. I have received other awards in the past, but this one right here is going to go above the mantel,” Gilbert stated. “It just shows what kind of department we have that recognizes us for good deeds. We don’t expect anything like this.”
Waxahachie Police Chief Wade Goolsby stated he is proud of each of his officers and the service they provide to the community.
“We do a lot of training. It starts with hiring the right people and is continued with professional development and training. We try to do as much of that as we can and prepare our officers for what they may face out there,” Goolsby said. “It is pretty obvious that these guys did what was needed and did an outstanding job. I don’t know if that is training or the quality of individuals they are. It is truly an honor to recognize that performance and actions.”