The Missouri Police Chiefs Association presented Jerry Pendergrass—who has a concealed carry permit—with its coveted President’s Citizen Award last month for his lifesaving action on June 14, 2018, when he came to the aid of a member of the Springfield, Mo., police department who had his gun “jam” during a gunfight with an armed criminal.
The perpetrator had already fired at law enforcement and during the subsequent foot pursuit officer Andy Zinke shot and wounded the criminal. His backup was nowhere nearby, though. “After I shot this guy I went to re-load and my gun jammed, and I looked down at my gun and I turned and there’s Jerry standing there with his gun,” he told KY3, a local TV station. “It bought me that second.”
“There is an ambulance in front of the house that can get you help right now,” Pendergrass told the perpetrator, emphasizing no one needed to die that day. “He looked at me, looked at his gun and I said no don't look at the gun. With me saying that, Zinke was able to stop moving around and bring his attention back and it was at the same time that he brought his attention back that we both ended up— the man reached for the gun and we shot him."
Pendergrass’ niece told reporters she was initially concerned the incident would become controversial because he’s part African American. The award helps alleviate that fear, although he admits the 10-second incident replays in his mind, at least once a day.
Officer Zinke explained the kind of heroics that came to his aid aren’t always encouraged by law enforcement, but, “… it was something pretty remarkable that day and I was blessed to have him over there.”