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Deputy hailed for valor
Disarmed woman during standoff
Deputy WEB
Forsyth County Sheriff Ted Paxton, right, presents the offices medal of honor to Lt. Tommy Hunter during a ceremony Monday. - photo by Jim Dean

A longtime Forsyth County Sheriff’s deputy has received the agency’s highest honor.

Lt. Tommy Hunter of the north precinct’s uniform patrol division was presented with the Sheriff’s Office Medal of Honor during a ceremony Monday night.

The recognition is presented only in exceptional cases where an employee risks his life in the line of duty.

Sheriff Ted Paxton honored Hunter, who has been with the department for nearly 19 years and in law enforcement for more than 30. The recognition stemmed from Hunter’s handling of an incident in August.

An 82-year-old woman had locked herself in a bathroom with a gun.

“Sometimes events arise in which people kind of step forward a little bit and as a result, something real good comes of it and that’s what we’re here for tonight,” Paxton said Monday.

He explained that on that August night, Hunter took the lead in communicating with the woman, who had threatened to shoot deputies.

He spent nearly two hours talking with her through the closed door before summoning negotiators and a SWAT team.

When she learned more personnel was on the way, the woman agreed to open to the door so that Hunter could see she was all right.

He then came face to face with the woman, who was standing less than 4 feet away and pointing the gun at him.

Paxton said Hunter kept calm and was able to distract the woman by drawing her attention to keys on the bathroom floor.

When she took her eyes off Hunter, he quickly removed the gun from her hand.

“While the presence of a deadly threat could have justified you’re use of deadly force, you chose to place yourself in harm’s way because you desired a peaceful outcome to this tense situation,” Paxton read from Hunter’s commendation letter.

“Due to your quick and diligent actions, you chose to react with minimal force so no one would be harmed, including the person pointing a gun at you.”

Hunter said he believed the woman was “definitely in the mind of shooting herself but she needed a reason.”

“And that reason would have probably been one of us if we’d come through the door,” he said. “I think if we’d come through that door without her opening it, she would have shot one of us and then that would have been her reason to turn the gun on herself.”

Hunter said he later called the woman’s son, who told him she is “doing better.”

“So it all worked out in the end,” he said.