Deputy of the Year says many others are deserving

Deborra Brannon
Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Michael Burns Jr. was named Deputy of the Year for 2014 at last month’s Peace Officer Awards event in Mount Shasta.

Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Burns Jr. was named Deputy of the Year at the Peace Officer Awards event on March 14.

Burns, who has served as a sheriff’s deputy for two years and is now assigned to patrol in the south county, was also considered for the county’s overall Peace Officer of the Year award.

Burns said other officers were on the scene during each of the incidents highlighted when he received his award.

He explained that he simply acted as he was trained to act in both instances.

“I’m not the only deputy out there deserving of that award. I work with a great group of people and as far as I’m concerned they’re all deserving,” he said.

Response during Boles Fire

Burns was in the middle of taking a burglary report in Dunsmuir when he heard the fire tones go off on September 15, 2014.

“I overheard the scanner traffic. They were requesting immediate assistance for evacuation in Weed,” he recalls.

When Burns arrived in Weed, N. Davis and S. Davis Boulevards were closed to traffic. He said there was some confusion as anxious parents tried unsuccessfully to get up the hill and pick up their children.

“Everyone was working extremely well together to do the job we needed to do. You really can’t plan for something that big,” he said.

Burns drove up to Weed High School and one of the sergeants on the scene told him to find out what was happening with four children standing apart from the kids scattered around the field.

“They told me they were waiting for their father. I knew he wasn’t going to make it up there because the road was closed,” he said.

The fire had already gone into Woodridge Court, Burns said. “It was my understanding that all the elementary school kids had been evacuated safely to the high school.”

He had the four children call to arrange for their father to pick them up at Ray’s Food Place. Burns drove the four children off the hill and reunited them with their dad.

Ordinarily there are protocols to be observed when transporting juveniles, Burns explained, but in that instance he simply loaded the children into his vehicle and drove them to safety.

“We’re trained to act now and compromise as needed to respond to the changing parameters of an incident,” he commented.

Sheriff Jon Lopey during the Officer of the Year awards event, said, “Deputy Burns’ quick response and valiant efforts may very well have prevented a loss of life or injuries to the children that he rescued.”

After the children had been picked up, Burns went back and evacuated an elderly couple.

He recalls many law enforcement officers from different agencies and departments working on evacuating people to safety.

“We were doing what we could, trying to work together but also doing what we could to get people out,” he said.

Burns credits the staff and faculty at both Weed Elementary and Weed High School for doing “a 100 percent job making sure those kids were safe.”

Dunsmuir stabbing

Other units were on scene in Dunsmuir when Burns responded to an altercation in front of Spirits Bar on March 6, 2014.

He said one person was bleeding on the sidewalk and another was down the street suffering from multiple stab wounds in the back.

One of the victims gave a description of his attacker, and Burns saw a suspect matching that description leaving the scene of the disturbance.

“Your instinct kicks in,” Burns said. “The stab victim can speak, he describes his attacker, you direct him to medical aid, and you pursue the suspect.”

That suspect was Daniel Joseph Moreno, who ultimately pleaded guilty to an assault with a deadly weapon charge and was recently sentenced to six years in state prison for his involvement in the stabbing.

Burns said he caught the suspect and remained the lead officer on the case, with other deputies and sergeants “assisting tremendously in the investigation.”

He said, “The incident happened at night and we responding officers were up all that night. The day shift personnel took up the tasks associated with interviewing witnesses and gathering physical evidence the next day.”

Sheriff Jon Lopey, while presenting the Deputy of the Year award to Burns, praised him for his “excellent investigative work and producing a complete and thorough investigation” that resulted in the plea arrangement.

Mount Shasta born and raised

Burns completed Police Academy through College of the Redwoods, taking his Level 1 police training at that school and Levels 2 and 3 at College of the Siskiyous.

Born and raised in Mount Shasta, he began his law enforcement career as a reserve officer for the Mount Shasta Police Department.

“I’ve always wanted to be in public service, and law enforcement was the avenue I chose,” Burns said. “The most satisfying part of my work is helping people.

He lives in Mount Shasta with his wife and two children. Being away from them is one of the hardest parts of the job, he reported.

“We work when everyone is enjoying family time,” Burns said.

He looks forward to a long career in the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office.

Recently Burns was the first sheriff’s deputy on the scene along with California Highway Patrol officers at the Truck Village Drive area murder.

“Every day in this job you never know what you’re going to face,” he said.