Micah Wilson guessed where the fleeing gunman would be headed. When the Puyallup police officer got there, he found out he guessed right.
“As soon as I came around the corner, he was waiting for me and that was the first time he fired at me,” recalled 38-year-old Wilson.
The man took off again, firing more shots at Wilson. The chase ended when Wilson used his patrol car to pin the man to the ground.
“I just knew at that point it needed to end,” Wilson said. “I couldn’t let him endanger anybody else.”
Wilson and detective Scott Bramhall helped end 35-year-old Nathen Terault’s rampage through a Puyallup neighborhood on Aug. 11, 2015.
Before he was stopped, Terault fired shots into more than a dozen homes and killed 71-year-old Richard Johnson after he caught Terault prowling through the older man’s pickup.
On Wednesday, a group of Puyallup families, residents and police officers gathered to honor Wilson, who’s now a detective, and Bramhall, who’s now retired after 33 years with the department.
The two received the Washington State Law Enforcement Medal of Honor for their actions in stopping the gunman.
“That day was crazy,” Puyallup resident Kim Vesey said. “(The officers) came together and embraced us with such safety and comfort.”
Bramhall and Wilson received their medals in front of a room of community members and fellow officers at City Hall. Police Chief Bryan Jeter praised their efforts as going “above and beyond” to protect Puyallup residents.
“It was truly a team effort,” Jeter said. “They definitely kept it from being even more horrific than it was. These officers demonstrated that they went above and beyond to keep our citizens safe.”
Wilson described the honor as “humbling.”
“It’s a privilege,” he said. “The opportunity to help in a meaningful way is really special.”
Wilson noted the actions of the other officers and responders involved that day.
“Obviously this incident wasn’t resolved by my actions alone,” he said. “There were a lot of other officers involved in bringing this to a successful close.
“I happened to be in the right place at the right time, and here I am getting an award that is really to be shared with everyone who was involved.”
Bramhall declined to comment.
The incident started after Terault abandoned his car after driving recklessly in the city. After shooting Johnson, Terault randomly fired at more than a dozen people and houses before carjacking an SUV and fleeing from officers.
Wilson said he responded from the southeast corner of Puyallup, “made the best estimation” of where the shooter would travel to next and went to meet him there.
After more gunfire, Bramhall shot and wounded Terault and Wilson pinned him with his patrol car.
Terault eventually pled guilty to murder, robbery and assault charges, and was sentenced to nearly 52 years in prison.
Vesey and Kathleen Stevens-Barrera of Puyallup attended Wednesday’s ceremony. As witnesses to that day’s events, they said they wanted to applaud the Police Department and its officers.
“It was a god-awful eight minutes,” said Stevens-Barrera, whose home was shot at by Terault. “For many of us who were deeply involved in that day, it’s just part of our healing process to see these people who put their life on the line honored.”
Vesey echoed her neighbor’s sentiment, saying that because of officers such as Wilson and Bramhall she can “walk out in her community and feel safe.”