Huntsville Police officers and citizens receive awards

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Special accolades were the order of the night at Thursday night's Huntsville City Council meeting. Two police officers were recognized for saving a man's life and two citizens were honored for saving the life of a police officer.

There's no such thing as a routine call. Ask any police officer.

Police Chief Mark McMurray explained the officers were responding to a 911 hang-up call. "They arrived at a home and found a man armed with a semi-automatic handgun pointed at his head. The man finally gave up and he pulled the trigger, tried to shoot himself in the head. Luckily the gun did not fire. Officer Gargalinski had less than a second to decide what to do as he tried to chamber another round in the weapon, he jumped on him," he said.

Both officers wrestled with the man trying to get the gun. It did go off, shooting the man in the hand. Everyone survived and the man is getting the help he needed. Officers Gargalinski and Rickenbaugh were presented with one of the department's highest awards, The Life Saving Medal.

The department's Purple Heart Award was given to Officer Ricky McCarver who was gravely injured in December while trying to make an arrest.

“They got in a fight in which he was blindsided, knocked cold, unconscious to the ground, and the man jumped on top of Officer McCarver and continued striking him in the face. The injuries were so severe that the trauma almost killed him and the blood was rushing into his lungs,” Chief McMurray explained.

Two men, who happened to be nearby and saw what was happening, rushed to help the officer. One detained the suspect while the other, a HEMSI trained EMT, began to administer first aid. He's credited with saving McCarver's life. Those men, Tommy Brown and Mark Wompler, were also recognized for their efforts for coming to the officer's assistance. Afterwards, Officer McCarver said he lacked the words to adequately thank the men.

“I can't say enough good things about them and the citizens of Huntsville who would come to help me when I need help,” McCarver told reporters.

McCarver is back on the job. He required a number of surgeries to address the injuries to his face and head. He says it's an honor to be back on the job protecting the citizens of Huntsville.