UPD officers recognized for response to May 19 University Center shooting


Brynn Lundy

From left to right: UPD Chief Michael Beckner presents the Chief’s Award for Courage to officers Tyrone Garrison, David Miller and Tyler Theard (not pictured) and sergeants Ronald Plaisance, Johnathan Edwards and William Smith for their actions in response to the May 19 shooting at the University Center.

Six University Police Department officers responded to the shooting at the University Center following Hammond High School’s graduation on the evening of May 19. The officers were recognized on campus today and received the Chief’s Award for Courage. 

UPD sergeants William Smith, Johnathan Edwards, Ronald Plaisance and officers David Miller, Tyler Theard and Tyrone Garrison were on the scene the night of the incident. Chief Michael Beckner and Vice President Eric Summers spoke at today’s ceremony in honor of the responders.

Chief Michael Beckner cited the award’s description after presenting each officer with a medal and a certificate.

He read, “The Southeastern Louisiana University Chief’s Award for Courage is presented to a sworn member for an act of outstanding bravery or heroism, by which the recipient has demonstrated in a great degree the characteristics of selflessness, personal courage and devotion to duty.”

According to Beckner, the officers responded quickly to the scene that evening and apprehended the first suspect, 20-year-old Hammond High alum Trent Thomas, within 37 seconds, with Garrison making the arrest. 

“It makes us aware that things like this could happen, and we are prepared. We can’t prevent everything, but next year there will be further steps to prepare more. It got us thinking about how we do things at Southeastern to guarantee more safety for our students,” Beckner said.  

The second suspect, who is a juvenile, was later identified and brought into custody during the investigation of the incident. The suspect was transferred to Florida Parishes Juvenile Detention Center in Covington on June 7. 

The case has been referred for prosecution to the district attorney’s office. 

Garrison, the UPD’s newest officer, emphasized the importance of the oath to public safety each officer has undertaken. 

He said, “Like Chief said, we can’t prevent all crime, but I believe a fast reaction to apprehend those committing the crimes is very important. It shows the community that people won’t get away with the things that they do and that the police officers are still out here doing the job they signed up to do and actually care about public safety.”

UPD launched a new app titled “Lion Safe” which is currently available for download through Apple and Google stores. Check lionsroarnews.com and @lionsroarnews on social media for updates.