Officer Credited with Preventing School Shooting to Be Honored
The sheriff deputy’s incredible story has others hailing him a hero.
The New York sheriff’s deputy who was credited with preventing a school shooting in 2015 will be awarded the Medal of Valor from President Barack Obama May 16.
Niagara County Sheriff’s Deputy Joe Tortorella, who has already been named New York State Sheriff Deputy of the Year, was one of five law enforcement officers selected for the honor, according to the Niagara Gazette.
The award is the result of Tortorella’s heroic actions during a dramatic shootout near an elementary school on April 17 last year.
Tortorella, 43, was responding to a 911 hang up call from a house in Wheatfield when Duane A. Bores Jr., 25, answered the door.
“What’s up?” the sheriff asked.
“Hang on, I’ll be right back,” Bores responded.
As Bores was closing the door, Tortorella heard a woman’s scream from inside the house.
“It wasn’t like she was screaming for help. She was screaming like she was dying,” Tortorella remembers.
Tortorella backed away from the door, which had a large window, and called for backup. Then, as Tortorella was moving toward his patrol car, he noticed Bores coming from the backdoor of the house with blood on his hands.
He drew his .45-caliber Glock handgun and told Bores to get on his knees. Little did the deputy know, Bores had just shot his two parents in the back of their necks and had two handguns in the back pocket of his pants.
Tortorella began questioning the man with his gun drawn.
“What’s all over your hands?” Tortorella asked.
“It’s just (expletive), man,” Bores answered.
“Do you have any weapons on you?” Tortorella asked.
“I don’t know, man.” Bores responded.
“If you reach for a gun or weapon, I’m going to shoot you,” Tortorella said.
“If you do, shoot me in the (expletive) head,” Bores replied.
Then Bores pulled one of his handguns, Tortorella recalls.
“That’s when I shot him three times. He grunted and fell back a little bit and stood up and started shooting and ran behind the patrol car,” Tortorella says. The deputy ran behind a tree roughly two feet thick. “There were a number of shots, bark was just flying.”
Under fire, Tortorella radioed dispatch to order a lockdown at Errick Road Elementary, which was just 100 feet away from the shootout.
“He’d fire and I’d fire. I knew my magazine was low so I put in a new one,” Tortorella reports.
After the exchange, Bores ran to the backyard. Tortorella, who had two children at the elementary school that day and a wife teaching, positioned himself between the house and the school to prevent the gunman from trying to enter.
Backup arrived and entered the house. They found Bores’ parents lying wounded at the front door and the gunman dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, reports Buffalo News.
“One of our guys asked me if I was OK, and I looked down at my vest and one of my Taser cartridges had been blown off the vest,” Tortorella says. “”They took my vest from me and found the round in the vest.”
Bores’ parents, described as “moments away from bleeding out,” were taken to a hospital, where they recovered.
The elementary school executed lockdown procedures, refusing to let even police into the building for 30 minutes.
And, finally, the Tortorella family was reunited.
“At that point, I didn’t know that he had gotten hit, I just wanted to see that he was okay,” Tortorella’s wife Erica says. “After I knew he was okay, I just wanted to get my son and daughter and go home.”
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