Honoring the Helpers: Garner Park Gunfire (from 8-4-20)

by Safety Connection

Every year, MPD recognizes sworn and civilian employees and citizens whose actions and work went above and beyond. In 2020, officers were stretched, working in the midst of a pandemic, staffing hundreds of protest events, and responding to record-setting violent crime. Many officers were vitally involved in several major incidents, during which they demonstrated heroism and courage, and exemplified MPD’s core values of service, recognizing human dignity, and leadership.

In the days ahead, we will honor these helpers and guardians of our community by highlighting these stories, starting with the officers who responded to a major shooting incident at Garner Park on August 4, 2020.

Some of our neighbors were startled to hear the scores and scores of gunshots that were fired that night—even though some of them live as far away as a mile from Garner Park. Others read neighbor accounts on Nextdoor that told of terrified people taking cover in private backyards, hiding behind woodpiles or even climbing trees to try to hide.

And some heard terrifying first-hand accounts from officers who were working that night. It is a miracle that nobody died. Madison Police estimate that the spent casings that were recovered represent only a fraction of the shots fired in Garner Park that evening.

Thank you to our community heroes who ran INTO the park while everyone else was fleeing FROM it.

From the Madison Police Department’s 2021 Awards and Citations announcements:

“Officers were monitoring Garner Park on August 4, 2020, due to concerns about a large event related to the loss of a community member’s life earlier in the year. At approximately 9:07 p.m., reports were received of gunfire coming from the park. MPD personnel who were the first on scene observed muzzle flashes of people shooting in their general direction while the large crowd began to disperse in all directions. Other officers responded and started to work their way through the area. Some members of the crowd were hostile and people were running in all directions, which made locating and securing a scene very difficult. This call resulted in two suspects taken into custody, two victims with gunshot wounds, three recovered firearms, approximately 66 spent casings, and 65 unfired rounds being recovered.

Officers responded heroically to a stressful and chaotic situation. They ran toward gunfire while everyone else scattered. Their leadership skills were top notch and allowed them to respond safely, deliberately and methodically. Many were awarded with a Meritorious Conduct Award for their heroic and exemplary work.”

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