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Three Newberry County deputies receive Medals of Valor

Lieutenant Michael Claytor, Lieutenant Thomas Miller, Sergeant Cory Cook, and Newberry County...
Lieutenant Michael Claytor, Lieutenant Thomas Miller, Sergeant Cory Cook, and Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster(Newberry County Sheriff's Office)
Published: May. 5, 2021 at 4:20 PM EDT
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NEWBERRY COUNTY, S.C. (WIS) - Three deputies with the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office have received 2021 South Carolina Sheriff’s Association Medals of Valor.

Lieutenant Michael Claytor, Lieutenant Thomas Miller, and Sergeant Cory Cook were rewarded for their actions and conduct during extreme life-threatening situations while on the job.

On the night of January 15, 2020, NCSO, the Newberry City Police Department and SLED partnered up to patrol an area that had been linked to several shootings and gang-related activities.

Around 6:50 p.m., Lt. Miller noticed a vehicle making two traffic infractions.

Miller initiated a traffic stop on the vehicle after it pulled into an apartment complex. As he approached the vehicle, officials said the driver sped away and led police on a chase for about a mile in Newberry.

As a second deputy, Lt. Michael Claytor, responded to the area, the vehicle stopped in the middle of the roadway. Deputies said the suspect then exited the vehicle with a backpack and ran between several houses into a densely wooded area.

Miller and Claytor pursued the suspect through the yards and into the woods.

Officials said the suspect then fired towards the deputies, both of whom were without cover. The deputies returned fire and disabled the suspect.

The deputies rushed to the suspect and began rendering first aid, officials said. They immediately called for Deputy Paramedic Gary Seibert to assist.

Due to the wooded area and darkness, the deputies activated strobe lights to guide Newberry County Hospital Paramedics to the scene to assist in life-saving measures. The rapid response paramedics saved the suspect’s life.

Sheriff Lee Foster said Miller and Claytor displayed courage, decisiveness, and a clear presence of mind without regard to their own safety in a life-threatening situation for the protection of their community. He said the deputies relied on their training and communication while putting their safety to the side to react to a violent and unpredictable situation.

In the early hours of October 25, 2020, Sgt. Corey Cook responded to a stabbing that was possibly linked to a domestic incident in the City of Newberry.

Cook arrived to find a vehicle in the garage at the rear of the residence with the lights on. As the deputy approached the house, officials said an individual came out of the garage with a pistol in his hand, raised it in the air and fired.

The deputy immediately reported shots had been fired and took cover. Due to call volume, immediate backup was not available. Cook began to give verbal commands to the subject, who had gone back into the garage and shut the roll-up door.

Officials said Cook remained calm, alert and attempted to de-escalate the situation.

After a few minutes had passed, the subject came out of the garage still armed. Cook continued to de-escalate the situation and commanded him to drop the gun, officials said.

Cook was able to get the subject to drop the weapon and took him into custody.

Sheriff Foster said Cook exhibited bravery and calmness under an extremely dangerous, life-threatening situation. The sheriff said Cook used his training in de-escalation to avoid further violence while disregarding his own safety to resolve the situation while waiting for backup.

Each deputy was presented the Medal of Valor by Foster and received a framed resolution from State Sen. Ronnie Cromer.

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