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Deputy U.S. Marshals Trevor McPolin and Johnny O'Brien

U.S. Marshals Service, NY

On August 14, 2015, members of the Eastern District of New York, Warrant Squad and the New York/New Jersey Regional Fugitive Task Force attempted to locate and apprehend a fugitive in Staten Island, New York. Wanted for a violation of supervised release, the fugitive also had several prior weapons charge convictions and was a known high-ranking member of the Bloods street gang.

Deputy U.S. Marshals Trevor McPolin and Johnny O’Brien, along with other Deputy U.S. Marshals and New York Police Department task force officers, arrived at the address where they believed the fugitive was hiding. The marshals and task force officers established a perimeter, announced their presence, and initiated contact by knocking on the basement door to the apartment.

An occupant of the apartment came to the door and talked to the marshals through the closed door. The marshals explained that they had an arrest warrant for the fugitive. The occupant insisted there was no warrant and refused to open the door. The marshals announced that, if necessary, they would forcibly enter the residence. At this point they heard the occupant walk away from the door.

After a brief period of time, members of the team contacted the landlord and were provided with a key to the apartment. U.S. Marshals McPolin and O’Brien, and several task force officers, opened the door and entered the apartment, with the first officer holding a shield to protect the team. They were immediately confronted by smoke filling the apartment, and elected to back out and call for the fire department to respond.

When the fire department arrived on scene, team members were still covering the apartment door with a shield while maintaining a perimeter. One firefighter was able to make verbal contact with an apartment occupant from the door. Against task force officers’ orders to not enter the apartment, the firefighter made entry. Shortly thereafter, the occupant discharged several rounds from a submachine gun, which struck the firefighter twice. The firefighter made a hasty retreat back to the door and collapsed in front of the entry team, where he became completely unresponsive.

The occupant continued to fire toward the apartment door. U.S. Marshal McPolin returned fire. Then U.S. Marshal McPolin, U.S. Marshal O’Brien, and a task force officer grabbed the wounded firefighter and pulled him up the stairs that led from the apartment door. At this point, an additional task force officer was able to use his shield to provide cover as the occupant continued firing from the apartment. After the firefighter was safely brought to cover, the entire team backed out and continued to maintain the perimeter.

Ultimately, the assailant was killed during an exchange of gunfire with the New York Police Department’s Emergency Response Team, which had responded to take control of the scene. The wounded firefighter was treated at a nearby hospital and was expected to make a full recovery.

The actions of Deputy U.S. Marshals McPolin and O'Brien demonstrate extraordinary bravery and a willingness to save the lives of others, without regard to their own personal safety.

Representative Kathleen Rice, New York 4th District, presented the Law Enforcement Congressional Badge of Bravery to Deputy U.S. Marshal Johnny O'Brien, on December 29, 2017.