Tennessee Guardsman is awarded Soldier's Medal for stopping shooter at football game
By CHAD GARLAND | STARS AND STRIPES Published: July 13, 2020
A 24-year veteran of the Tennessee Army National Guard who disarmed and restrained a gunman at a high school homecoming game nearly two years ago has been presented the Army’s highest award for noncombat bravery.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee awarded the Soldier’s Medal to Sgt. 1st Class Patrick Shields on Friday at the Wyatt Duke Armory in Brownsville, the state’s National Guard said in a statement.
Shields responded when he heard gunfire in a parking lot after a game on Oct. 5, 2018, the statement said.
Two people were wounded in the incident at Haywood High School in Brownsville, including a 19-year-old man who was shot twice in the back and airlifted to a hospital about 65 miles away in Memphis, WBBJ television reported at the time.
The teen and a 32-year-old woman shot in the foot were both treated and released, local media reported.
Shields had attended the game to watch his son play when he heard several gunshots, he told WBBJ. “I could actually see the flames from the barrel,” before tackling the 16-year-old suspect as he ran by, he said.
“I just grabbed his hand and fell to the ground with him,” Shields said in the statement. “I didn’t want anybody to take the gun, so I held him there until police arrived.”
Shields’ brother also helped by stepping on the handgun.
Police Chief Barry Diebold credited Shields’ quick thinking with saving lives, local media outlets reported. The suspected shooter was arrested and charged with criminal attempt to commit first-degree murder, the police said at the time.
The Soldier’s Medal is awarded to service members who distinguish themselves by heroism not involving conflict with the enemy, while serving in any capacity with the Army. The action must involve personal hazard or danger “and the voluntary risk of life,” not just a lifesaving act.
“Sgt. 1st Class Shields’ actions are a validation not only of his training, but a validation of his character,” said Maj. Gen. Jeff Holmes, Tennessee’s adjutant general. “He exhibited the courage that every soldier is trained to exhibit and aspires to achieve.”
A member of Detachment 1, 1175th Transportation Company, Shields said he just did what he thought anyone else would have done in the same situation.
“But for the governor and the adjutant general and everyone to be here, it’s truly humbling,” he said. “I’m thankful for everyone here today.”
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee makes remarks at a ceremony in Brownsville, Tenn., on Friday, July 10, 2020, where Sgt.1st Class Patrick Shields was presented with the Soldier's Medal, the Army's highest peacetime award. Shields, a member of the Tennessee National Guard's 1175th Transportation Company, disarmed and restrained a shooter in a parking lot following a high school football game in October 2018.
TIMOTHY CORDEIRO/TENNESSEE NATIONAL GUARD