Mission police officers who answered shooting call near Highlands Elementary among those honored at recent ceremony

Officer Jay Fleer (right) and Samantha Kunzler-Bryant (middle) receive the Kansas Association of Chiefs of Police Gold Award for Uncommon Valor in connection to their response to the March 2019 Highlands Elementary shooting incident. Photo submitted by Emily Randel.

The city of Mission recently honored Officers Jay Fleer and Samantha Kunzler-Bryant for their response to the Highlands Elementary shooting incident in March 2019.

Although Mission would typically present officer awards during city council meetings — which have turned virtual due to COVID-19 — the city held a socially-distanced officer award ceremony Friday to honor police going above and beyond. Fleer and Kunzler-Bryant were among awardees, and received the Kansas Association of Chiefs of Police Gold Award for Uncommon Valor in connection to the Highlands shooting.

Officers and a few family members gather at the Sylvester Powell Jr. Community Center on Sept. 11 for the awards ceremony. Photo submitted by Emily Randel.

The Highlands shooting caused Mission police officers to engage with Dyan Christopher Ruffin, who was arrested and later charged with multiple crimes related to the shooting. Mayor Ron Appletoft said the awards are a reflection of “the incredible service” Mission police provide everyday in critical situations.

“People don’t hear enough about the good works of our police officers,” Mayor Ron Appletoft said. “When our officers arrive on a scene, they don’t know what they will find.”

  • Officer Marengo received two life saving awards, one commendatory performance report and one certificate of commendation.
  • Officer Sliter received two life saving awards and one certificate of commendation.
  • Officer Rubio received two certificates of commendation.
  • Officer Bekele received one life saving award.
  • Officer Oblinger received one certificate of commendation.
  • Officer Fleer also received one certificate of commendation.

Interim Chief Dan Madden, who stepped into his role after Ben Hadley retired due to health concerns, said the department and its officers are inspiring.

“We are so fortunate to have such a dedicated and professional team of police officers,” Interim Chief Dan Madden said. “The things they do to keep our community safe is inspiring and reflects the commitment each of them have.”