Former Liberty County Deputy Cpl. Terry Perry looked humble as he received one of the highest honors the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office bestows, a medal of valor.
Perry, who now works for the Long County Sheriff’s Office, received a letter of commendation and the medal from Liberty County and Long County sheriffs Steve Sikes and Craig Nobles in a ceremony Friday.
“I appreciate the award and appreciate the recognition,” Perry, who worked for the Liberty County sheriff six years, said. “I think it’s just something that anyone in this room would have done if they had been in that situation.”
Perry diffused a dangerous situation on May 6 at BoMaz night club in Walthourville.
“It is always a pleasure to see the sheriff recognize this kind of dedication to duty and heroism,” Liberty County Chief Deputy Keith Moran said. “It is a blessing that we are watched over and rarely get individuals hurt and it is also a blessing to have an officer like Cpl. Terry Perry who can react under severe, dangerous and stressful situations.”
Sikes said the medal is his office’s highest award, equivalent to a bronze or silver star.
Perry was working an off-duty, security assignment at BoMaz when a patron, later identified as Nathaniel Pruitt, became disruptive and was escorted out. Pruitt reportedly went to his car, got a semi-automatic handgun and returned to the club’s parking lot. Perry and several witnesses saw Pruitt shooting rounds into the air of the crowded parking lot. Sikes said Perry drew his gun, approached the suspect, identified himself as an officer and told Pruitt to drop his weapon several times.
Pruitt fired, striking another patron, Michael Fluker, in the leg.
“At great personal risk Cpl. Perry continued advancing toward the suspect telling him to drop his weapon. At that time the offender appeared to chamber a round into a semi-automatic pistol and was turning the weapon toward Cpl. Perry, who then fired his service weapon striking the offender. Cpl. Perry immediately moved forward covering the suspect, retrieving the suspect’s weapon and calling for medical attention and law enforcement backup,” Moran read from the letter of commendation.
Pruitt died. Perry was placed on temporary administrative leave for the investigation. Atlantic Judicial District Attorney Tom Durden later decided Perry’s shooting was “necessary and proper.”
“Cpl. Perry’s dedication, devotion to duty and acts of heroism reflects great credit upon himself, the Liberty County Sheriff’s office and the Long County Sheriff’s Office,” Sikes wrote in the letter.
Sikes said Perry set an example for the whole department as well as the state.
“I am honored to have served as your sheriff,” he said.
Perry’s current boss, Nobles, then presented the medal to Perry.
Nobles said, “I’ve known Terry for many years... His co-workers respect him as a law enforcement officer. His professionalism and his community experience is greatly appreciated by the law enforcement community and we offer our congratulations to him.”
Sikes and Nobles said it is the first medal of valor either has presented.
“This feels good… I don’t like the thought of shooting people but I’m glad I made it through and that I get to go home to my kid… I think I may have saved a couple of other people that night,” Perry said.