Left to right: Master Sergeant Tim Merriman, Acting Lieutenant Shane Alvey, Sergeant Jerod Belford, Acting Captain Bill Sons. –Rhonda Belford photo.
On May 15, 2014, the First National Bank of Cairo was robbed by a male suspect. The suspect forced three female employees back into the bank as they were leaving for the day. He then proceeded to cut their throats and stab them. Two died and the third was critically injured. The suspect fled the scene in a stolen vehicle. Chief Deputy Burl Pickett pursued the vehicle while communicating with Sheriff Tim Brown and Lieutenant William Sons. The pursuit ended when the suspect’s vehicle became disabled. A foot pursuit ensued leading onto the railroad bridge over the Ohio River where the suspect, still armed, held law enforcement at a standoff as he threatened suicide. During the standoff, Sheriff Brown and Special Agent Alicia Barr negotiated with the suspect to surrender from an exposed position on the bridge. Due to the difficult terrain and vegetation, Sergeant Chad Brown, Sergeant Michael Belford, Trooper Wesley Van Hook, Trooper Shane Pettigrew, Trooper Brian Wilson, and Special Agent Ron Bratcher provided cover but were also dangerously exposed from their position on the bridge. About an hour later after the suspect was coaxed back onto the tracks, Captain Dave Dover moved covertly behind him and deployed a Taser. The suspect was taken into custody and subsequently charged with Attempted Armed Bank Robbery Resulting in Death and Unlawful Possession of a Firearm by a Felon. Lieutenant Sons, Sergeant Belford, Sergeant Brown, Special Agent Barr, Trooper Pettigrew, Trooper Hook and Trooper Wilson were recognized with a “Medal for Honor”. The “Medal for Honor” is awarded to Illinois State Police personnel who perform a heroic act that by its nature results in saving a life, preventing a serious crime, or apprehending a person who committed a serious crime. Sheriff Brown, Captain Dover, Special Agent Bratcher and Chief Deputy Pickett were recognized with the “Director’s Award of Distinction.” Sergeant Jerod Belford is a proud native of Hardin County. He and his wife Cassie and three children, Brooklyn, Callie and Gavin currently reside in Massac County. Sgt. Belford is the son of Mike and Rhonda Belford; and grandson of Jane Stunson (Jim Stunson / Jock Belford deceased); Ronald and Mary Anne Armstrong; Michele and Bill Tinault. In addition to Sgt. Belford’s wife, children and parents, he was glad to have in attendance for the 2015 awards ceremony his brother Britt, fiancé Beth, father-in-law and mother-in-law Charles and Debbie Soward, along with niece and nephews, Abigail, Jonah, and Nick Austin. Belford States, “He is humbled by the experience and proud to serve and represent his community in all ways.”