BEND, Ore. - An Oregon State Police senior trooper who confronted and eventually killed a knife-wielding man who had taken a hostage at Bend's High Desert Museum last year has received the agency's highest award for heroism in the line of duty.
OSP Major Andy Heider presented Senior Trooper Rich Brannin with the Holly V. Holcomb Award at a packed ceremony Friday of about 50 law enforcement officers, OSP staff, family, friends and museum staff members at OSP's Bend Area Command offices, a family member said.
The text engraved on the award describes the frightening sequence of events that led Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel to not only find Brannin's May 31, 2016 shooting of Nicholas Berger justified, but to also salute Brannin's and others' heroic actions that day.
Brannin had responded to the museum, just south of Bend, on a report of a museum guest being taken hostage -- as it turned out, the woman being pulled around the museum at knifepoint was a gift shop employee. The 13-year OSP trooper was the first law enforcement officer to arrive on the scene.
The award to Brannin from OSP Superintendent Travis Hampton states that after arriving at the museum, "at great risk to your personal safety, you quickly took charge of the rapidly escalating situation and located and confronted the armed and violent suspect in an attempt to bring the situation to a safe conclusion for all parties."
"The suspect advanced towards you armed with a knife and lesser options (two hits with a Taser) proved unsuccessful, ultimately resulting in the appropriate use of deadly physical force," it continues.
The award says Brannin's conduct and actions that day "represent the highest standards of an Oregon State Trooper. The courage you displayed in your response to the situation is a testament to the measure and strength of your chracter and exemplify the qualities of an Oregon State Trooper."
The award is named for OSP Superintendent Holly Holcomb, who was fatally shot in 1975 in Salem after a confrontation with a disgruntled former trooper, Robert Wampler.
The award, created in 1988, "is presented to officers who, while serving in an official capacity, distinguish themselves by reacting to a situation in a heroic or positive and professional manager to reduce the risk of loss of life or injury to another person."