Park Ranger In Montana Named Officer of the Month

A gunman began running toward Ranger Alexandra Burke and another officer. Ranger Burke shot the man at close range before he could strike her with the knife. The shooting was ruled as justified.

The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) selected Ranger Alexandra Burke of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management as its Officer of the Month for April 2010.

In January 2009, Roger Sellers began shooting, sniper-style, outside of a northeastern Montana hospital. The gunman's bullets struck and injured two people and killed another. A shootout ensued between Sellers and local law enforcement, but Sellers managed to escape.

At least 50 federal, state and local law enforcement officers then searched for Sellers. Three of those officers — U.S. Border Patrol Agent Phillip Wright, Fort Peck Tribal Police Officer Daniel McKee and Ranger Burke — worked together searching for Sellers. The officers followed tracks that led to a farmhouse that had previously been deemed as cleared. The tracks in the snow, marked with occasional droplets of blood, provided evidence of the wounded gunman's retreat to the farmhouse.

The officers called for backup and then proceeded to methodically follow the tracks that led along a game trail. In the lead position, Agent Wright first spotted Sellers, holding a large knife in his hand and standing next to a tree. The officers repeatedly instructed Sellers to drop his weapon, but he refused to comply, telling them instead to "go ahead and shoot." Sellers took steps toward Agent Wright, then began running toward Ranger Burke and another officer. Ranger Burke shot Sellers at close range before he could strike her with the knife. Sellers succumbed to the gunshot wounds. The shooting was ruled as justified.

"Ranger Burke demonstrated the highest level of dedication in her actions," wrote Shanon Mast McPherson, the National Awards Director for the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, in her letter nominating Ranger Burke for the Officer of the Month award. "She placed her own safety and security at risk in performing her duties. She displayed great bravery in the face of a most dangerous situation - confronting a suspected killer who clearly intended to do serious harm to her and other officers."

Ranger Burke continues to serve and protect the U.S. government and its citizens as a sworn federal law enforcement officer with the Bureau of Land Management. She is as a member of her agency's Prairie Integrated Border Enforcement Team. She also belongs to the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, as well as the Bureau of Land Management Law Enforcement Officers Association.

On May 14, 2010, Ranger Burke was honored with a "Top Cop" Award from the National Association of Police Organizations. In June 2010, she will be honored with a Bravery Award by the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association.

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