Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

April 1, 2013

Trooper gets big salute for valor

Barry Porterfield
Pauls Valley Democrat — A state trooper from the Pauls Valley area was among a group given special honors this week commending them for their heroism, valor or humanitarianism.

Trooper Danny Long, most recently with Garvin County’s detachment of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, was one of six troopers from across the state receiving their special medals during a ceremony Thursday, March 28 sponsored by AAA Oklahoma.

In Long’s case it was a medal of valor for his action in taking down an armed suicidal man who was threatening him and a handful of law enforcement officers about a year ago near Pauls Valley.

Long’s boss, Ron Hampton, commander of OHP’s Trooper F headquartered in Ardmore, said Friday it was Long’s quick action that likely saved his own life and possibly the lives of another trooper and two Garvin County deputies.

Hampton is referring to Ray Kent Puckett, 41, who first took Long and others on a pursuit the afternoon of March 11, 2012.

Puckett then pointed a shotgun at the trooper forcing him to fire the shots that killed the suspect.

“It was tragic in that the man had a long history of mental health issues and it was his intent to have police shoot and kill him,” Hampton said.

“All Danny knew at the time there was this man in front of him who was going to try and shoot him,” he said.

“His quick and decisive actions I feel not only protected himself but also Heath Green and the two deputies.”

The incident for Long began when he earlier was driving to work on a road northeast of Pauls Valley. There he saw a man and a pickup in the middle of the road.

“As he slowed down and went past the pickup he observed an individual raise up and shoulder a shotgun and point it at him,” Hampton said.

Long didn’t know there were two county deputies already there watching the vehicle on the report the man was considered suicidal.

From there a pursuit began as another trooper, Heath Green, set up a road block about a mile away. As the man drove past he was pointing the shotgun at Green’s patrol car.

Long then used a tactical maneuver to force the truck to spin out and come to a stop. When it did the two vehicles were facing each other. That meant the trooper was only a few feet away from a suspect holding a weapon.

When the man exited the truck he raised the shotgun forcing Long to fire a number of shots that killed Puckett.

“When you hear these troopers’ stories and find out what they do on our behalf – and the dangers they face – it gives you such a feeling of pride in our Department of Public Safety,” said Chuck Mai, spokesman for AAA Oklahoma, the sponsoring organization.

“The men and women of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol put their lives on the line for us each and every day.”

Although still a trooper Long also now works as a special deputy with this district of the U.S. Marshal’s office.

Other troopers honored with medals were Kyle Henson of Sallisaw, Cody Hyde of Muldrow and Scott Shropshire of Claremore, all for humanitarianism; and Michael Patnode and Kevin Sparkman, both of Oklahoma City, for heroism.