Tennessee Deputy Named AMW All-Star Finalist
Las Officer Put Herself in the Line of Fire to Protect School Principal
A courageous Sheriff's Deputy from Tennessee who faced down an armed intruder at a high school has been chosen as a finalist in the 2011 America's Most Wanted All-Star Contest, sponsored by Sprint.
Deputy Sheriff Carolyn Gudger of the Sullivan County Sheriff's Office is the fourth weekly finalist chosen by the public through online voting in the contest, which honors the work of first responders.
Deputy Gudger, a school resource officer, had just entered Sullivan Central High School last August when she noticed a man demanding to speak with the school's principal. When the principal came out of her office, the man pulled out a handgun. Deputy Gudger immediately placed herself between the gunman and the frightened principal, and as she waited for backup her 15 years of experience and training were put to the test. Her skills as a negotiator enabled her to keep the gunman away from students and faculty until other deputies arrived. But even then, the gunman refused to back down or give up his weapon forcing the deputies to shoot him to death to end his threat.
Deputy Gudger's heroic actions prevented what could have become an even more tragic incident. Sullivan Central now considers her its "Guardian Angel." The students who affectionately call her "The Gudge" wear t-shirts with that nickname on the front and "She's Got Our Backs" on the back. According to the parent who nominated her for the All-Star Award, "the students loved Deputy Gudger before and love her even more now." Adds Melanie Riden-Bacon, the principal whose life the deputy protected that day, "Carolyn Gudger loves the school and she is more than a police officer. She is a mentor and a friend."
Deputy Gudger is the fourth of eight weekly finalists to be chosen by the public in this year's AMW All-Star Contest. Any member of the public can nominate and vote for their favorite first-responder online. The nomination process is simple: Go to AMW.com to fill out a short form naming your top choice and explain what makes this person an All-Star.
Each weekly finalist will be profiled on America's Most Wanted (Saturdays, 9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT on FOX). Through online votes, the public will choose the grand-prize winner. In May, AMW Host John Walsh will present the 2011 AMW All-Star winner with a check for $10,000 at a ceremony in Washington DC and the winner will receive a trip to the NASCAR SPRINT Cup Series All-Star Challenge at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Nominations are open at AMW.com until noon (ET) on April 2, 2011. Members of the public may vote for their favorite first responder once a day, every day. Finalist voting runs through midnight April 10th. Grand-prize winner voting will run April 21st through May 8th.
Please visit AMW.com/allstar for more information.