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St. Louis County ‘officer of the year’ credited with preventing mass shooting

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – The St. Louis County Police Central Precinct honored four officers for their work in 2017, including its Officer of the Year, who helped stop what could have been a mass shooting.

Officer Cody Kuykendall was named 2017 Officer of the Year. Larry Fields, John O’Neil, and an undercover officer were also recognized for outstanding police work at a luncheon Thursday.

Fox 2’s Katie Kormann was the guest speaker and Vic Faust acted as the emcee.

Captain Mark Cox, St. Louis County Central Precinct, said there was so much good work in the previous year it was difficult to pick winners.

Kuykendall and Fields stopped what would have been a mass shooting at Rhonda’s Bar in Maryland Heights.

“We got a call saying a guy was in the bar saying he was going to light the place up,” Kuykendall said.

By the officers arrived at the bar, the man was gone, but he forgot his cellphone. Kuykendall found a pic of his car with the plate on his phone. As the officer was leaving, he noticed something.

“I looked to my left on Page, I see the same car driving east on Page. I said, ‘That’s the car,'” he said.

The officers chased the car and the driver pulled over.

“As we were walking up, you could see the AR-15 in front seat on his lap, putting rounds in it,” Kuykendall said.

The officers stopped the driver before he could shoot them. Fields said officers are taught to approach a car expecting the unexpected.

“What if this guy does get out of car or drives off, your instincts and training kick in, you try to be safe and keep those around you safe as well,” he said.

Kuykendall said the man later admitted he was driving back to the bar to “shoot the place up.”

The suspect in the case agreed to a plea deal for making a terrorist threat plus a DUI. He was probated out of jail on a five-year term of probation.

“It does happen more frequently than the public knows,” Cox said. “Thank goodness it doesn’t happen very often.”