Deputies honored for action during shooting

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By The Staff

A sheriff's deputy, four deputy jailers and a high school senior were honored by the Grant County Fiscal Court on Jan. 22 for their actions after a man came to the Grant County Detention Center on Dec. 27 carrying a gun, asking to speak to the jailer.

"All too often, people who serve the public only get bad press," Judge-Executive Darrell Link said as presented the individual honors. "Seldom are they recognized for quietly doing their jobs."

Recalling the incident, deputies said their shift began like any other that day, but by 4:30 p.m. a series of events began to unfold.

Grant County High School senior Chris Root, who works as the afternoon co-op student in the front office, was the first contact Joey Montgomery had with jail staff. Carrying a shotgun and asking to talk to Jailer Steve Kellam, Root said Montgomery appeared agitated.

"All I knew was I couldn't freak out. I just knew I had to remain calm, professional and do my job," Root said. "It could have gone bad real quick."

An added concern was a woman who was waiting in the lobby. She was talking to Montgomery, trying to calm him, according to acting jail supervisor that day, Sgt. Alisha Scroggins, who came to the office after a call from Root. Simultaneously, Deputy Holly Cobb called 9-1-1.

Sheriff's Deputy Brian Maines, who was completing an accident report in the sheriff's office which adjoins the jail, headed out the front door when he heard the call.

"I walked down the sidewalk, rounded the corner and peeked into the lobby where the gunman had the woman backed into the corner," Maines said. "I ordered him to drop the weapon, which he didn't do."

Once Montgomery turned his attention to Maines, deputies brought the woman into the office.

"We got her through the first set of secure doors into the library where she stayed for more than a half-hour," Deputy Angela Young said. "She was extremely upset and we just tried to calm her down."

When Montgomery came outside, Maines retreated and took cover behind a brick column near the entrance of sheriff's office.

"I ordered him to drop his weapon several times but when he brought the shotgun up to his shoulder, I made a split-second decision to shoot," Maines said.

Maines hit Montgomery twice, once in the leg and once in the foot. Montgomery ran toward the back of the jail. Deputy jailer Lt. Jerry Morris, who was inside the jail, was alerted to the shooting.

"I knew I had four Class D inmates returning from a work detail who were waiting at the door," said. "When I heard that Montgomery was running to the back, toward the Class D area, all I could think was, "Those are my guys out there."

Morris got the men safely inside. Maines was able to take Montgomery into custody and he was treated for his wounds at University Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Montgomery, 31, of Florence is now incarcerated in the Grant County Jail, charged with criminal attempt to commit murder of a police officer.

The jail deputies credited training for their quick and deliberate response to an emergency.

"Usually, we think about trouble coming from within the jail. We don't think about trouble coming from outside," Scroggins said.

Deputies were amazed by the standing room only crowd that came to the ceremony. As people jockeyed to get into the room, deputies had different thoughts.

"I thought it was wonderful that all the people came to show their support, whether it was people from the community or the deputies who work on different shifts," said Scroggins. "I was proud."

"I was worried about having to stand up in front of all those people, but I was proud to be there," said Young.

"It made me feel good. Things like this don't happen very often," said Morris.

"The training kicked in that day and the ceremony was a wonderful show of support for us," Cobb said.

Kellam stood in the crowded courtroom and watched his deputies during the presentation.

"I was proud that my deputies recognized the seriousness of the situation and responded so quickly," Kellam said. "It allowed everything to be resolved without loss of innocent life and they are to be commended for their actions."

In addition to the honor from the fiscal court, Sheriff Chuck Dills presented Maines with a Certificate of Valor that was last presented nearly eight years ago when Deputy Dennis Switzer and former deputy Joe Ratcliff were involved in a pursuit that ended in gunfire in Sadieville.

Maines will also be honored by the Kentucky State Senate at 2 p.m. on Feb. 5 in Frankfort.

"Brian has been a deputy and an incident like this is a lot to go through for a young person," Dills said. "The decision he made to shoot probably saved his life."

Maines was required to take seven days off after the shooting.

"After a few days, it was hard to sit around," Maines said. "I wanted to get back to the job I love and that is to serve and protect the people."