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Delaware Docket Newsletter
Summer 2014

Governor Honors Capitol Police and Judicial Branch Employees For Courageous Acts During Courthouse Shooting

On May 8, 2014, Governor Jack A. Markell and Lieutenant Governor Matt Denn recognized the recipients of the Delaware Award for Excellence and Commitment in State Service in a ceremony in Dover at the Delaware Technical Community College's Terry Campus. Also recognized were the very first recipients of the Delaware Award for Heroism. Established in 2013, the Delaware Award for Heroism recognizes acts of heroism and courage among members of the State's legislative, executive, or judicial branches. Recipients must demonstrate exceptional judgment and courage in a potentially serious situation, outside the scope of an employee's normal job functions, whether or not the act was performed during working hours.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Leo E. Strine, Jr., President Judge James T. Vaughn, Jr., State Court Administrator Patricia W. Griffin, Deputy State Court Administrator Amy Quinlan, Superior Court Administrator Maureen Frederick, and Superior Court Chief Bailiff Robert Hastings were on hand to congratulate the Capitol Police officers and Judicial Branch employees who were recognized for their courageous actions during the New Castle County Courthouse shooting one year ago. On any given day, the New Castle County Courthouse welcomes over 200 jurors assembling for jury duty, 650 employees reporting for work, and hundreds of others who are conducting business or attending hearings. On February 11, 2013, at approximately 8:15 A.M., bullets rang out in the lobby, the actions of a lone gunman. Judicial Branch 2014 Employee of the Year, Jose E. Hernandez, Court Security Officer I, Superior Court, a 12-year veteran of the Superior Court security team, was one of the first security officers on the scene to render aid to the two female victims of the fatal courthouse shooting.

David Brezenski receives award
Jose Hernandez, Judicial Branch 2014 Employee of the Year (center), receiving an award from Governor Markell and Lieutenant Governor Denn, pictured with Chief Justice Strine (second from left) and President Judge Vaughn on the right.

The collective actions of Capitol Police officers Sergeant Michael Manley; Corporal Steven Rinehart; Corporal Arlene Redman; Senior Corporal Scott Simpson; Master Corporal Lori Templin; Senior Security Officer Darryl Smith; Senior Security Officer Maureen McGill-Jones; Senior Security Officer Yvette Miller; Dispatcher Isaac Vaughn; the late Senior Security Officer Stephen Green; and now retired Lieutenant R. Marshall Martine, and David Brezenski, Social Service Specialist with the Administrative Office of the Courts, exemplify the qualities recognized by the Delaware Award for Heroism. When the shooting began, the Capitol Police officers tasked with protecting the courthouse reacted immediately, helping those in the courthouse lobby get out of the direct line of fire, shielding individuals with their own bodies, pursuing the shooter, and, ultimately, ending the shooting rampage.

David Brezenski receives award
David Brezenski (center), a recipient of the Delaware for Heroism Award, pictured with (from left) President Judge Vaughn, State Court Administrator Pat Griffin, Lieutenant Governor Denn, Deputy Court Administrator Amy Quinlan, Governor Markell, and Chief Justice Strine.

Mr. Brezenski was staffing the Information Desk in the Courthouse lobby and placed a call to the Wilmington Police Department despite being in the direct line of fire when the shooting began. Mr. Brezenski gave an on-going, real-time account of the shooting as it occurred, providing critical information to responding police officers as they made their way to the Courthouse. Honored to receive the award, Mr. Brezenski wanted nonetheless to recognize his colleague, Aida Torres, who worked beside him that morning. "Aida deserves as much praise as I do. She stayed beside me while I placed the call and did not leave until I was finished and we were able to go to a safe location."

We thank Officer Hernandez, Capitol Police, and David Brezenski for their quick responses and willingness to place the safety and security of others over their own.