Police officers honored for acts of heroism

Cops earn accolades for actions following April bank robbery

June 24, 2009

Fox Point — On April 16, three police officers found themselves in a faceoff that is almost unheard of in the North Shore.

After receiving a call about a bank robbery, the officers spotted and followed the armed suspect who eventually opened fire on them. The suspect got four shots off before the officers returned fire, shooting and killing him.

The three men - Sgt. Christopher Freedy and officers Daniel Obremski and Christopher Suarez - are being recognized for their heroic efforts by Fox Point Police Chief Thomas Czaja, who will present them with Commendations of Valor on Monday.

The award recognizes individuals for acts of bravery and self sacrifice, and is an honor rarely received by an officer.

"I don't recall ever issuing any here at Fox Point," said police Capt. Gerald Lamm. "This is the first time the chief has issued commendations in his career."

Similarly, such shootouts between officers and bank robbery suspects are few and far between.

"We do have bank robberies, maybe one or two a year, but never where we have a shootout with a suspect," Lamm said. "This is the first time I can remember when officers had to fire their weapons."

Officers responded quickly

The shootout happened after a robbery was reported at Cornerstone Bank, 8607 N. Port Washington Road, in Fox Point. Obremski first spotted the suspect, Joshua Black, sitting in the passenger seat of a maroon vehicle going south on Port Washington Road driven by a female accomplice, Kenyetta Terry.

Obremski followed the vehicle, activating his emergency lights and sirens. Suarez and Freedy also followed the vehicle, which stopped at Port Washington and Good Hope roads, in Glendale. The officers then began removing civilian motorists from their cars and taking them to safety.

Suarez saw a weapon in Black's hand and ordered him to drop it and put his hands up.

Black then shot twice at River Hills officer John Karakis, who was positioned behind a concrete structure. Black then fired two more shots at the Fox Point officers and River Hills Sgt. Jay Johnson.

The officers returned fire, killing Black. Terry was unharmed and taken into custody. Her case is pending.

Since the shootout, Freedy, Obremski and Suarez have attended counseling and talked to other officers who have been involved in shootings, Lamm said.

"All three officers are doing just fine," he said. "They're all back at work."

River Hills officers honored

Karakis and Johnson of River Hills received recognition last week for their roles in the incident. Both were honored with Class B Citations of Valor, also awarded to members who perform deeds of bravery or self sacrifice, Police Chief Tom Rischmann said.

Karakis fired his assault rifle at Black four times, striking him twice. Johnson also fired at Black and was instrumental in getting a number of drivers out of their cars and to safety, said Rischmann.

"I've been here for 29 years and I don't know of anyone who has received this honor," he said. "I can't think of any more concern for a law enforcement officer than being confronted by a suspect with a weapon, especially a firearm."

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