The call could have ended very differently.
When Delta County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Travis Lackey and Deputy Jake Hernandez arrived at the Eckert pasture last July, they encountered a man with a gun, who was bent on harming himself.
“Sgt. Lackey acted quickly. He was able to save this man’s life,” Delta County Sheriff Mark Taylor said Wednesday.
Lackey’s quick actions that day ultimately earned him a Western Colorado Red Cross Hero of the Year Award, which he received March 20 during a virtual ceremony presented by CoBank.
Lackey and Hernandez in July responded to calls about an armed person who was threatening self-harm. When they arrived on scene, they saw a man in a field, with a woman latched onto him, pleading and trying to calm him, Taylor recounted.
As the officers approached, they spotted the man’s handgun and, as the man turned and saw them, he brought the gun up, Taylor said.
“Sergeant Lackey in an instant just jumped on this individual and was able to disarm him. They detained him,” Taylor said.
The man did not point the gun directly at officers. “Fortunately, Sgt. Lackey didn’t give him a chance to do that. He was able to get him on the ground and disarm him,” the sheriff added.
The men learned the man had plans and means to take his own life.
“Sergeant Lackey had the presence of mind to calm (man’s) wife down. He was able to get this individual to the hospital and in touch with The Center for Mental Health,” Taylor said.
Weeks later, a letter came in the mail. It was from the man, thanking Lackey and Hernandez.
“He was able to attend his daughter’s wedding instead of his family grieving over his death. It touched us all that this individual wrote that letter to the sheriff’s office,” Taylor said.
So, when the time came to make nominations for the Red Cross Heroes’ award, Taylor sent a letter seeking honors for Lackey, who competed with more than 100 others for such an honor. According to the Red Cross, Bridger Walker; the Poudre Fire Authority; Renae Harris; Landon Guzzo and Jason Mendoza-Anaya also received a Red Cross Hero of the Year award.
The 7th Judicial District Attorney’s Office on Wednesday issued a statement congratulating Lackey and thanking all partner agencies for their daily work.
Taylor on Wednesday also praised Hernandez.
“Jake was right there with him and Jake did a fantastic job and was able to act or react just as Sgt. Lackey did. It was certainly a team effort,” he said.
“We’re certainly proud of both of them and of Sgt. Lackey for showing his compassion to both the male party and his wife and being able to get him the help that he desperately needed.”
Lackey last year received department-level honors, the DCSO Lifesaving Award, for his response to the same incident. That commendation credited him with also saving the man’s wife, because she could have been struck by gunfire had the weapon discharged.