Northumbria officers win regional bravery award after stopping gunman

13 July 2017

Three officers from Northumbria who stopped an armed man who was intent on harming a police officer have been named as the Region 2 (North East) winners at the 22nd National Police Bravery Awards in London.

PCs Sarah Currie, Michael Otterson and Sergeant Elliott Richardson were recognised after their brave actions in stopping a man who had armed himself with a host of deadly weapons in a pub in Gateshead.  The awards, sponsored by Police Mutual, honour and recognise police officers who perform outstanding acts of bravery.

On 11 September 2014, PCs Currie and Otterson attended an address in Gateshead after concerns were raised by a community nurse about a patient with a history of violence and schizophrenia, who had made threats towards local drug dealers.

They were told the man had left the address wearing a backpack and carrying a bag. Officers then spotted the suspect making his way into a nearby pub – and when they followed him inside they were confronted by him pointing a firearm at them.

When Sgt Richardson arrived on the scene, his two colleagues were already in a struggle with the man, and he ran to help, using his baton to help disarm the man. The suspect fired the loaded weapon, but fortunately it did not hit anyone.

After a difficult struggle the man was disarmed – with help from a member of the public – and it was then discovered he had an arsenal of weapons with him: two handguns, a crossbow, throwing knives, home-made petrol bombs, smoke grenades and a baseball bat. During his interview, the man said he had reached a crisis level in his state of mental health and felt his illness wasn’t taken seriously enough. To get the help he thought he needed, he said he planned to arm himself with weapons and cause harm to police officers. He was sentenced to an indefinite hospital order.

On receiving the award from HRH The Countess of Wessex, PC Currie said: “I’m shocked and overwhelmed. On the scene it looks like a lot of courage but it certainly didn’t feel like that at the time.”

PC Otterson added: “My family are going to be very proud. My little boy is going to be totally made up after this. But in reality I’m still in awe of everyone else in the room.”

And Sgt Richardson said: “When you look at all the other footage we wonder why on earth the judges picked us. It’s unbelievable when you are the force that is called out.”

Northumbria Police Federation Chair Jim Gray said: “This was an incredibly dangerous and volatile situation, in which these brave officers thought they were fighting for their lives. It is sad that this man felt his best way of getting help was to threaten the police, but we are lucky to have officers who fought so hard to ensure not only the safety of the public, but their own.  I am delighted that they have won this award.”

Stephen Mann, CEO of Police Mutual, said: “Every nominee at this year’s awards has shown outstanding courage and thoroughly deserves to be recognised. Your continued bravery helps ensure that millions of people in our country are kept safe, which is perhaps more important than ever given recent events across the world. This is why we proudly continue to support this event.”

More information on our Bravery Awards