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IACP Police Officer of the Year Sergeant Marcus Young Recalls Terrifying Incident and Heroics of Other Officers


Sergeant Marcus Young, Ukiah Police Department, CA

When the Ukiah Police Department needed an offi­cer to fill a patrol shift va­cancy on the night of March 7, 2003, Sgt. Marcus Young was happy to volunteer. An administrative sergeant who normally supervised the dispatch center, coordinated training and looked after the schedule, he often worked overtime when another officer was needed on the streets. But this shift would be unlike any other. Before the evening was over, Sgt. Young, 42, would save at least three lives, including his own.

Young [was] recognized in Los Angeles on Nov. 16, 2004, as Police Officer of the Year by the International Association of Chiefs of Police and PARADE. Ten other outstanding policemen also [were] honored.

Young’s ordeal began when he was called to the local Wal-Mart to arrest an 18-year-old female shoplifter. He was accompanied by Julian Covella, then 17, a high school student and police cadet. During the arrest, Young was approached by the shoplifter’s boyfriend, Neal Beck- man, 35, a violent felon. When Young told him to take his hands from his pockets, Beckman pulled a knife.

Young seized the felon’s arm twisted it toward his back. Beckman then drew a .38 Smith & Wesson from his jacket, reached across his body and shot Young five times. Bullets pierced his cheek, back and upper arm. Young’s body armor stopped bullets to his chest and back, saving his life.

The assailant’s gun was empty, but he still had a knife when Brett Schott, the store’s unarmed secu­rity guard, jumped on his back and knocked him away from Young. Beckman stabbed Schott in the upper chest and ran toward the patrol car, where Young had left his rifle and shotgun.

“I was on my knees in a parking space,” Young recalled. “My right arm was paralyzed, my left hand had a two-inch tear between the index and middle fingers, and I could not draw my gun. I was bleeding profusely.”

As terrified bystanders screamed and ran for cover, Young remained calm. He called Covella— who had just radioed for backup—to his side and asked the cadet to unholster his pistol and place it in his left hand. Young fired four rounds, stop­ping Beckman before he could grab a firearm from the patrol car and start shooting again.

When help arrived, Young, Schott and Beckman were taken to the local hospital, where Beckman was pronounced dead. Schott recovered from his wounds; Young continues to struggle with pain and weakness in his bullet-riddled upper body.

But he’s alive. “I thought the entire time that I was going to die,” Young recalled. “I told an offi­cer to tell my wife I loved her, because I didn’t think I would get to do it myself.”

For that chance, he thanks Covella and Schott. “They were the real heroes in this situation,” Young said. “They risked their lives to help me, to help an officer out. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them.”

©2004 Larry Smith. Initially published in PARADE Magazine. All rights reserved.

PHOTO BY JONATHAN SPRAGUE/REDUX FOR PARADE

Learn more about the Ukiah Police Department at: http://www.cityofukiah.com/pageserver/?page=police_main

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