Six Hays County Sheriff’s Office deputies are being honored for their heroic actions after a gunman ambushed deputies in Wimberley last November. The situation ended with a deputy injured, the shooter dead and sheriff cars riddled with bullet holes.
Sgt. Jon Craigmile responded that night to the call with five other deputies. “Normally we don’t respond that heavily with that kind of presence, but something that night struck me as kind of odd,” said Craigmile.
Craigmile says the deputies all responded at the same time and he was the second deputy in the line of cars. He says when the car in front of him turned off his lights he did too. “When I did that, that’s when the window fell out and I recognized the sound of the gunshot and the window falling and I realized we had been ambushed.”
Craigmile has been with the department for 25 years. From beginning to end, he says the incident lasted only 28 seconds.
“I got out of my car and I remember thinking to myself I need to turn my camera on because I need them to know how I’m going to die,” he said. “I came out and pulled my pistol and as I came around the car I see him pump the shotgun and go forward and he’s shooting at the deputy behind me about eight yards away.”
The shooter was 26-year-old Rocky West. According to the sheriff, West made the 911 call, lured deputies to his location and planned the ambush. “I prepared my wife after 25 years, she knows the rules. We always say I love you before we leave and I thought, huh, she’s going to see it,” said Craigmile.
When the shooting stopped, Craigmile managed to dodge the spray of bullets that pelted his car, but another responding deputy wasn’t as lucky.
“I looked over and I could see Deputy Gieselman trying to get his tourniquet out,” said Craigmile.
Deputy Ben Gieselman was hit by numerous shotgun pellets. Craigmile helped get the injured deputy into a patrol car and safely out of harm’s way. His actions to stop the shooter and help the injured deputy earned him the Medal of Honor. “It’s the highest honor you can get, it means a lot,” he said.
Deputy Brian Bedingfield also received the Medal of Honor for assisting Craigmile in helping the injured deputy.
Three deputies, Deputy Matthew Abbott, Deputy Benjamin Gieselman and Deputy Adam McCleod, received the Medal of Valor. According to the sheriff’s department, Gieselman used suppressive fire while Abbott and McCleod used direct fire to stop the gunman.
Gieselman also received a Purple Heart Medal after being hit by numerous shotgun pellets in his hand, legs and groin area. “This was the first deputy shot in the line of duty in maybe over a hundred years at the Hays County Sheriff’s Office. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the last one,” said Hays County Sheriff Gary Cutler.
The department also handed out a Sheriff’s Commendation Medal to Corporal Leigh Treat who took command of the scene, set up perimeter defenses and directed support and logistical responses.
Authorities say the first shotgun blast into one of the first responding patrol cars happened when the deputy was within 20 yards of the shooter. The deputies returned fire as Miles ran into the nearby woods. Deputies found West dead and investigators believe he was shot and killed by deputies.
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