Gov. Scott presents Medal of Heroism to Clay County Sheriff Deputy

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Gov. Rick Scott recognized Clay County Sheriff Lieutenant Russ Burke with the Medal of Heroism for courage and service to Florida citizens.

Scott honored Burke during a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

“Lieutenant Russ Burke responded quickly during the line of duty,” Scott said, “and innocent lives were saved thanks to Lieutenant Russ Burke’s heroic actions.”

On May 1, 2013, Burke responded to a request from Clay County’s Special Victims’ Unit to aid in the move of an endangered child from his grandfather’s home. Burke assembled two teams of deputies to respond if necessary, while he and a Sergeant approached the home to evaluate the grandfather’s state of mind.

Once in the home, Burke announced his intentions, but the grandfather took out a handgun hidden in the middle of his back, pointing it at Burke’s head. Burke grabbed the barrel of the gun and took it from the man’s hand.

After gaining control of the weapon and subduing the suspect, officers safely removed the child from the home without anyone harmed.

 “Lt. Burke’s actions not only saved his own life but also potentially the lives of the other agency members and civilians at the scene,” said Clay County Sheriff’s Office Major David Senters. “When the suspect pointed the gun at him, Burke’s instincts and training came together in a split second resulting in the suspect being disarmed and arrested without harm being done to anyone.

“This is heroism at its best.”

Florida’s Medal of Heroism recognizes law enforcement or correctional officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians or paramedics who risked their lives beyond the call of duty. Individuals must have engaged in hazardous or perilous activities to preserve lives, with the knowledge that such actions could result in personal harm.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.