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Corporals Steven Hough and Jeffery Watkins

Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office, Florida

On December 9th, 2011, Corporal Hough was assisting in the apprehension of a violent fugitive. He, Investigator Watkins, a number of U.S. Marshals, and other Task Force Officers arrived at the residence and were assigned duties of securing the dwelling to contain the suspect in order to affect his surrender/arrest.

Corporal Hough and Investigator Watkins were detailed to secure the front of the residence and established a position in the roadway. Because the suspect had refused repeated requests to open the door and surrender, personnel on scene were awaiting deployments of SWAT officers from the Santa Rosa County Sheriff's Office, before taking further actions.

At approximately 1:50 p.m., the suspect abruptly exited the residence at which time Corporal Hough and Investigator Watkins both issued verbal commands for him to show his hands and get on the ground. The suspect immediately brandished a firearm in each hand and began firing at the officers.

Fearing for the safety of other law enforcement officers on scene and the public, Corporal Hough and Investigator Watkins maintained their position and engaged the suspect in a firefight from their position behind a vehicle. The suspect fired multiple shots with several of the bullets striking the vehicle these officers were utilizing as cover.

Investigator Watkins deployed a ballistic shield and attempted to move to a different tactical position as the suspect continued firing and moving toward Corporal Hough. Corporal Hough was forced to abandon his position and moved toward Investigator Watkins. During this point, Corporal Hough sustained multiple gunshot wounds and fell to the ground, and Investigator Watkins experienced a weapon malfunction and could not return fire on the suspect.

Investigator Watkins immediately moved to position himself between the suspect and Corporal Hough using the ballistic shield to protect themselves as they both moved towards better cover. These events occurred very rapidly while other law enforcement officers on scene were engaging and attempting to suppress the suspect's movements toward the two officers.

The suspect did not stop firing until his weapons were empty of bullets; once his weapons were empty he dropped them but continued to move forward until he was mortally wounded  by the gunfire of Corporal Hough and others on the scene.

Media Release

Congressional Badges of Bravery Presentation

Two men wearing officer uniforms and holding Badge of Bravery plaques at the award ceremony.
Investigators Todd Watkins and Steve Hough.
A group of people standing together in a row at the Badge of Bravery awards ceremony. Some are holding awards.
Investigators Steve Hough and Todd Watkins with Florida 1st District Congressman Jeff Miller (third from left).