Three Lake County sheriff’s deputies and canine Dax received one of the highest honors in Illinois for their actions in two separate officer-involved shootings of armed suspects.
The awards were presented by Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly at a ceremony in Springfield on Wednesday.
Lake County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Chief Christopher Covelli said this is the first time the ceremony has been held since 2016.
Deputy John Forlenza and his canine partner Dax along with Deputy Ray Gilbert received the “Illinois Law Enforcement Medal of Honor” award during the ceremony.
The three received the award for a 2018 incident where the group responded to a burglary in progress call.
Two offenders fled on foot when they arrived, Covelli said.
One was quickly apprehended but the second continued fleeing. The suspect stopped and pulled a firearm on the deputies.
Dax distracted the armed offender and Gilbert fired at the suspect, wounding him.
Forlenza and Gilbert provided aid to the offender until the paramedics arrived, Covelli said.
Deputy Thomas Sieber also received the Medal of Honor award Wednesday for a 2020 incident.
He and the Sheriff’s Warrants Team were conducting an operation to take a man into custody who was wanted for homicide.
As Sieber and other members of the team approached a Beach Park residence, the offender exited a vehicle parked in the driveway and began shooting at the Warrants Team.
Deputy Sieber, along with McHenry County Sgt. Daniel Kramer, returned fire, striking the offender.
Members of the Warrants Team performed CPR on the man until the paramedics arrived, Covelli said. The suspect later died.
“I am incredibly proud of Deputies Forlenza, Gilbert, Sieber, and K9 Dax. This heroic group of deputies undoubtedly prevented innocent lives from being lost, while putting their own lives on the line,” Lake County Sheriff John Idleburg said.
“Congratulations to all four on receiving this deserved, prestigious award,” Idleburg said.
Over 100 other law enforcement officers received the Illinois Law Enforcement Medal of Honor during the Wednesday ceremony for their actions in the last several years.