OWASSO, Okla. -- When off-duty Owasso Police Detective Jason Woodruff happened upon an armed robbery 16 months ago, he chose to act -- quickly and forcefully.
"He had a choice in an instant, as many of our police officers do when they are called upon, to decide whether to disengage or to engage," said U.S. Attorney Scott Woodward of the Northern District of Oklahoma. "This detective engaged when he had to, and he did a stellar job.
"On July 21, 2010, he clearly and decisively demonstrated an uncommon and exemplary response to extreme adversity. And we commend him for his actions."
Woodruff, who thwarted a robbery at an Owasso Kum & Go store that day, on Tuesday became one of the inaugural recipients of the Law Enforcement Congressional Badge of Bravery.
Woodward, Owasso Police Chief Dan Yancey and U.S. Rep. John Sullivan, R-Okla., presented the award at a ceremony at the Owasso Baptist Village.
Woodruff, 37, is one of 21 national recipients of the honor, which was created by Congress in 2008 as a way to recognize federal, state, local and tribal officers who perform exceptional acts of bravery in the line of duty, said Gregory Joy of the U.S. Department of Justice.
"It was really just the right place at the right time," said Woodruff, who has worked for the Owasso Police Department since 2004. "I didn't do anything any other officer wouldn't have done had they stopped at that gas station to get gas."
As Woodruff was refueling his personal vehicle at the store at 10603 E. 86th St. North, he noticed bystanders and store employees huddled outside, he said. One person gestured that a man was inside with a gun.
"I crept up, looked inside and saw a man with an assault rifle pointed at the clerk," Woodruff said.
It was 5 p.m.
"There was traffic everywhere," he said. "I didn't want a shootout. There was a grade school right across the street."
So when the gunman's back was turned, Woodruff entered the store and identified himself as a police officer before the robber pointed a gun at him. Woodruff shot the gunman several times, secured the scene and reassured the injured robber that medical attention was on its way.
"Jason, being the officer that he is, he's pretty intuitive as to what's going on around him," said Yancey, who made the nomination. "It didn't surprise me that he took the action that he did. And it didn't surprise me how he reacted to the gunman when he got him under control."
Jose Luis Moreno, who twice has been deported to his native Mexico, pleaded guilty in federal court in Tulsa in February to robbing the store while brandishing a rifle. He was sentenced in June to 12 years and three months in prison.
Woodruff shrugged off the accolades Tuesday.
"To me, it doesn't stand out as that big an event," he said. "So I'm really surprised that I got the award. But I'm definitely humbled and honored to get it."
Copyright 2011 - Tulsa World, Okla.
McClatchy-Tribune News Service