They ‘literally stared death in the face.’ SC sheriffs recognize York Co. officers

York County deputies and state law enforcement officers were awarded the Medal of Valor for their actions the night of Jan. 15, 2018, when four officers were shot, one fatally.

The officers recognized Thursday by South Carolina Sheriff’s Association were: York County Sheriff’s Office’s Lt. Heath Clevenger, Lt. Mike Ligon, Sgt. Buddy Brown, Sgt. Randy Clinton, Sgt. Grady Gonzales, Det. Mike Doty, Det. Chris Laurencio, and Deputy II Cole Greene; Clover Police Department’s Sgt. Judd Baird; York Police Department’s Sgt. Kyle B. Cummings; and South Carolina Law Enforcement Division special agents Wayne Matthews and Dennis Tracy.

SWAT team member Det. Mike Doty later died from his injuries. Doty’s family, including father Bob Doty and twin brother Det. Chris Doty with the York County Sheriff’s Office, accepted his award, the sheriff’s office said in a statement.

“I’ve had many proud moments in my career,” York County Sheriff Kevin Tolson said at the ceremony. “And I say to these men, this is as proud a moment I’ve ever had in my career to present this Medal of Valor to you and your families.”

York County Sheriff’s Office K-9 officers responded to a domestic violence call Jan. 15, 2018, near York.

K-9 Unit leader Sgt. Randy Clinton was the first officer shot during the manhunt for Christian McCall in what police called an “ambush.” Sheriff’s office SWAT team members Doty, Brown and Cummings were later shot. McCall is serving a life sentence without parole.

State Law Enforcement Division special agents Matthews and Tracy also were shot at as they piloted a helicopter with a heat-seeking camera.

“These officers literally stared death in the face in an effort to serve and protect a complete stranger,” Cherokee County Sheriff and Sheriff’s Association president Steve Mueller said. “Their actions are worthy of our utmost respect and admiration. These types of stories are far more prevalent than we even recognize, which is what makes this such a noble profession.”

Sgt. Tim Wright with the Abbeville County Sheriff’s Office and Deputy Tony Hannon with the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office also were presented the Medal of Valor at the same ceremony.

“It is our great fortune to have so many people like these officers do that so few want to do, but not doing it as a job but as a mission,” said keynote speaker Sen. Tim Scott. “John 15:13 reminds me there’s no greater love than this, that a man or a woman should lay down their life for a friend.”