Ft. Pierce, FL – A deputy U.S. marshal and a St. Lucie County sheriff’s deputy wounded in the line of duty received U.S. Marshals Service Purple Heart awards from Stacia A. Hylton, director of the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS), at a ceremony here today.
Hylton presented Deputy U.S. Marshal Andy Deacon and St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Deputy Paul Pearson, who is also a USMS task force officer (TFO), with the Purple Heart Award, which recognizes law enforcement personnel who are wounded and injured in performance of their duties with the U.S. Marshals Service. The ceremony was held at the federal court house.
DUSM Deacon and TFO Pearson teamed up Nov. 20, 2013, with members of the USMS Florida/Caribbean Regional Fugitive Task Force to execute arrest warrants on two fugitives wanted by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office on federal narcotics violations. Robin Jean Guillaume, 28, and Alex Guerrier, 29, were charged with possession with intent to distribute five or more kilograms of cocaine.
The arrest team consisted of deputy U.S. marshals and TFOs from the Martin and St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Offices. After two pre-arrest briefings for this operation, a 12-member arrest team approached a Sebring, Fla., residence where the fugitives were located. Deputy marshals and TFOs knocked on the door and announced their presence. Deacon, holding a ballistic shield for protection, and Pearson were the first two law enforcement personnel in the stack formation to approach the door of the residence.
Within seconds of announcing their presence, Pearson and Deacon were hit by gunshots through the front door. Pearson was shot in the shoulder and quickly moved to cover. Deacon was shot in his right hand, but continued to provide protection for his team with the use of his ballistic shield until law enforcement personnel moved to a point of cover.
Pearson and Deacon were moved to a safe distance, and task force members apprehended the fugitives. A Highland County Sheriff’s Office tactical unit cleared the residence to make sure there were no other armed subjects inside. Three firearms were found during the search.
Deacon and Pearson were transported to a local hospital for treatment. Deacon has not yet returned to duty; he has undergone four surgeries in the past four months and will need more. Pearson returned to full duty within a few days of his injury; he is back at work with the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office and the USMS fugitive task force.
The U.S. Marshals Service established the Purple Heart Award in 2010 to honor USMS operational employees and task force officers injured in the line of duty as a direct result of criminal or hostile action. It is similar to the military Purple Heart Award given to members of the armed forces who have been injured or killed by enemy action.