ISLA VISTA (CBSLA.com) — Several deputies and officers were honored Wednesday for their bravery and heroism during last year’s mass shooting in Isla Vista.
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office and the University of California, Santa Barbara Police Department held the awards ceremony, during which Sgt. Brad Welch received a Medal of Valor.
Welch was on duty the night of May 23, 2014, when Elliot Rodger stabbed, shot and ran down people in the beachside community. Welch heard gunfire and ran toward Rodgers’ car, all while being shot at by the suspect.
“As we started running towards him, he continued on doing his rampage and we started encountering victims and we started triaging them and seeing who needed more care,” he recalled.
The attack lasted eight minutes. Rodger killed six people and injured another 14 before taking his own life.
“The suspect had hundreds and hundreds of more rounds of ammunition so I know he wasn’t done doing what he did but I know if the men and women didn’t deploy the way they did then we might have a lot more casualties,” Welch said.
Det. Joseph Schmidt served as the lead investigator on the case. He was honored with the sheriff’s Meritorious Service Award.
“It was definitely one of the most devastating cases I’ve worked on as a detective, and I know for our agency it was one of the more complicated cases that we’ve ever had,” Schmidt said, adding that he’s spent thousands of hours combing through evidence and working numerous crime scenes to get answers for the community and the victims’ families.
Ultimately, Welch says his Medal of Valor is an important reminder of how members of law enforcement risk their lives every day for their communities.
“I’m just so thankful that these heroes did what they did and there wasn’t hundreds of more casualties,” he said.