By Jessica Bakeman
ALBANY Twenty-three troopers were honored Thursday at the State Police's annual award ceremony, including a Poughkeepsie officer who last year stopped a violent home invasion in progress, killing the armed suspect and protecting three residents inside.
Trooper Daniel Hoffman, 29, was recognized with the highest State Police award for bravery, the Brummer Award, for his response during the May 2012 incident.
"The brave and heroic action of Trooper Daniel Hoffman ended a violent attack upon his own life and saved the life of three residents who had already been subjected to a physical attack by this vicious criminal," Col. Daniel Penny, who announced award winners, said during the event.
Penny described the scene: Hoffman was called to a home robbery. As he entered the house in LaGrange, suddenly, a masked suspect with a sawed-off rifle knocked him to the floor and beat him with the end of his firearm.
Eventually, the suspect pointed his rifle at Hoffman, and the trooper shot the man twice. The suspect, Abdelle Jean St. Ange of Poughkeepsie, was later pronounced dead at the scene.
"It wasn't a good situation, what I walked into. I made the best of the situation. I was able to overcome a bad situation," Hoffman said. "I'm happy that the residents, who are the victims here of a violent crime, are safe."
Hoffman was joined by his wife, Alexandra, 32, and their two young sons, Cooper, 2, and Connor, 1, at the ceremony.
"He's a hero, and I'm just glad he came home," Alexandra Hoffman said after the event.
Also honored Thursday was Trooper Christopher Sullivan out of the Boston barracks in Western New York. Trooper Sullivan is credited with saving the live of a child who nearly drowned in the family pool.
The State Police presented a certificate of appreciation to a FBI special agent whose canine partner was fatally shot during the apprehension of a holed-up shooter in Herkimer County in March.
The gunman, 64-year-old Kurt Myers, killed four people in two locations in Mohawk and Herkimer and later hid in an abandoned building. The FBI dog, Ape, was sent in to find the shooter and was killed.
His master, FBI Special Agent Gregory Ferner, took the stage at the ceremony Thursday with another dog. He guided the dog to sit with a simple nod of his head and caressed its nose affectionately while they accepted the certificate.
"In giving his life, canine Ape undoubtedly saved the lives of other special operators," Penny said.
Sergeant Darren Forbes, of Rhinebeck, Dutchess County, received the Trooper William V. McDonagh Award for dedication to community service.
Forbes, who is also a volunteer emergency medical technician, was recognized for his volunteer work in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, as well as his quick response to a car accident he encountered in Rhinebeck last summer.
In that situation, one person was killed instantly and two others were pinned in the vehicle. He helped to save the survivors.
Trooper Jason Timko, East Fishkill, Dutchess County, got the Trooper Kevin P. Dobson Traffic Safety Award after making 42 arrests for driving while intoxicated and issuing 1,020 traffic tickets in 2012.
Trooper John C. Campanella, a school and community outreach coordinator in Batavia, Genesee County, was presented with the George M. Seale Memorial Award for excellence in training and education.
He conducts workshops at schools throughout western New York on cyberbullying, internet safety, drug and alcohol awareness and prom safety. He has also worked with schools to improve security since the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., last year.
State Police Superintendent Joseph D'Amico praised the troopers for their service.
"What continues to impress me the most is the almost routine occurrence of bravery, exceptional performance of duty and devotion to the public by all of our members," he said.
Gannett Albany, WGRZ