Friday, February 6, 2009

Medal of Valor - Captain Daniel McDonagh

Officers Yukio Oshita, Scott Biggs, Kevin O’Leary and Daniel Kroos – the officers who responded to the tiger incident at the San Francisco Zoo – received Gold Medals of Valor before the Police Commission this past Wednesday. Theirs was an act of tremendous courage and I again offer the words of their Captain, Paul Chignell: “These officers responded with alacrity to a horrific event (and) risked their lives without qualification.”

Importantly, the Commission presented nine other medals of valor – for acts ranging from the intrepid pursuit of armed killers, to selflessly entering a burning building to save a life. Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be posting on their extraordinairy stories. We’ll kick this off today, with Captain Daniel McDonough, commanding officer of Southern Station. The below is excerpted from Commander John Murphy's remarks at the ceremony.

The men and women of the San Francisco Police Department perform extraordinary acts every day. Whether they make it to the front pages of the Chronicle and Examiner or not, they deserve our recognition and thanks.

Captain Daniel McDonagh is being awarded the Silver Medal of Valor for his heroic acts following the shooting death of a young man at the Metreon Theater. On November 11, 2007, two young men were involved in a verbal altercation near the snack concession inside the theater complex. The suspect drew a semi-automatic pistol from his person and opened fire, striking the victim several times. During the ensuing chaos, the suspect made his escape.

Captain McDonagh, on-duty outside the Moscone Center, heard the radio broadcast regarding the shooting and immediately directed his attention to the Metreon. He saw an individual running toward him with a firearm in his left hand. Captain McDonagh immediately realized that he was about to confront the “shooter” from the Metreon Theater. He drew his firearm and ordered the suspect to drop his weapon.

The suspect began to lift his firearm toward Captain McDonagh. Due to the pandemonium nearby, there was still a large crowd of patrons exiting the Metreon. Captain McDonagh, full-knowing the danger he was in, opted not to shoot at the suspect. Seeing Captain McDonagh positioned at the ready, the suspect fled the area. Captain McDonagh broadcast that he was in foot pursuit of the armed suspect.

Unbeknownst to Captain McDonagh, the suspect discarded his firearm at the corner of Fourth and Mission. He then attempted to evade arrest by entering Bloomingdale’s and mingling with shoppers. Captain McDonagh continued his pursuit and made eye contact with the suspect, who subsequently bolted through the store. Plainclothes officers from Southern Station, responding to the emergency broadcast, captured the suspect as he burst out of the store exit – Captain McDonagh still in pursuit.

The victim died from the gunshot wounds inflicted by the suspect. The suspect was positively identified as the killer and his firearm was recovered nearby. The suspect subsequently confessed to killing the victim because, as he angrily asserted, the victim was too slow getting on the escalator inside the theater.

Captain McDonagh manifested outstanding bravery, full-knowing that he was confronting a gunman who had just opened fire in a crowded theater with wanton disregard for human life. For his actions, Captain McDonagh is being awarded the Silver Medal of Valor.