Deputy Jason Gassaway, a SWAT team leader with the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office in Redding, is now a finalist in a nationwide online contest in part because of what he did to end a hostage situation at a bank in Burney in December 2009.

Gassaway is a former McCloud resident whose father Grant lives in Mount Shasta and whose mother, Sharon Johnston, is a former Weed resident.

He is one of eight finalists in the 2010 America’s Most Wanted All-Star competition.

One of 1,100 first responders from across the nation initially nominated by citizens for the contest, he is the only finalist from the west coast.

The winner will be determined by online voting that began at on April 15 and continues until May 3. Anyone can cast one vote per day for Gassaway by clicking on his name and entering their email address.

Each of the eight finalists has an inspiring personal story to tell, and many voters think Gassaway should receive the $10,000 first place prize and a weekend at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series All-Star Race.

Gassaway’s skills as a SWAT team leader were put to the test when a gunman went into a bank in Burney, shot two customers, took others hostage, and then began shooting at law enforcement vehicles when they arrived at the scene.

His team surrounded the building and Gassaway was placed in a strategic location at the rear of the bank, allowing him to see the suspect and hostages.

He said he had a clear line of shot to the suspect, but was unable to see the hostages, and therefore did not take the chance. But after a three hour standoff, Gassaway and another officer saw an opportunity and shot at the suspect through a small hole in a window. It was later determined that Gassaway’s first shot killed the suspect and ended the crime.

Both of the bank customers who were shot survived.

For his professionalism and calm during this crisis he received special recognition from the Shasta County Office of the Sheriff.

A patrol deputy for 13 years, Gassaway was a canine handler for seven years and has been the Lead Defensive Tactics instructor since 2003.

He has received other awards, including Officer of the Year.

In his off hours each summer, Gassaway is a member of The Family softball team at McCloud’s annual Lumberjack Fiesta.