A Life-Changing Endeavor
Fifteen years ago today, Ukiah Police Sergeant Marcus Young almost lost his life in the line of duty.
I think anniversaries like this are important to commemorate, to recognize and remember the significant contributions that Sergeant Young and so many other law enforcement officers make every single day.
Sergeant Young’s ordeal began when he was called to the local Wal-Mart to arrest an 18-year-old female shoplifter. He was accompanied by Julian Covella, then 17, a high school student and police cadet. During the arrest, Young was approached by the shoplifter’s boyfriend, Neal Beckman, 35, a violent felon. When Young told him to take his hands from his pockets, Beckman pulled a knife.
Young seized the felon’s arm and twisted it toward his back. Beckman then drew a .38 Smith & Wesson from his jacket, reached across his body and shot Young five times. Bullets pierced Young’s cheek, back and upper arm. His body armor stopped bullets to his chest and back, saving his life.
Even though Beckman’s gun was empty, he still had a knife when Brett Schott, the store’s unarmed security guard, jumped on his back and knocked him away from Young. Beckman stabbed Schott in the upper chest and ran toward the patrol car, where Young kept his rifle and shotgun.
“I was on my knees in a parking space,” Young recalled. “My right arm was paralyzed, my left hand had a two-inch tear between the index and middle fingers, and I could not draw my gun. I was bleeding profusely.”
Young remained calm and called Covella—who had just radioed for backup—to his side and asked the cadet to unholster his pistol and place it in his left hand. Young then fired four rounds, stopping Beckman before he could grab a firearm from the patrol car and start shooting again.
If you ask Young about the incident now, he says that Covella and Schott were the real heroes in this situation. “They risked their lives to help me, to help an officer out.”
Young, one of the most courageous and noble people I have ever known, often reminds me of the countless law enforcement professionals just like him who spend their time protecting us from extremely dangerous people each and every day.
We agree that it’s important to recognize the dangers these dedicated law enforcement professionals face, and to remember that sometimes those dangers lead to heartbreaking losses, as they did when we lost sheriff deputies Ricky Del Fiorentino and Bob Davis. Our communities still feel their absence.
Even in the face of injuries and loss, Marcus Young would tell you there is no better career than a career of service. The acts of helping people, protecting them, and keeping them safe are highly rewarding. For some, the first time they put the safety of someone else above their own is a truly life-changing endeavor. They realize they’ve found their calling.
If serving our community interests you, maybe you should consider becoming a law enforcement professional.
Law enforcement leaders in Mendocino County like myself are committed to recruiting and developing local candidates–people like you–who have grown up in our communities. We want to hire people who have made the choice to live and work here, people who are invested in keeping our neighborhoods and business districts safe.
We think finding local, community-minded men and women is essential to creating great organizations.
If you’d like to learn more, a great first step is to schedule a ride-along with us. This gives you a front row seat, so you can find out what we do and how you might fit into our organization. Learn more by visiting our websites, Facebook pages, or even giving us a call.
We’d love to hear from you if you’re considering a career in law enforcement.
As always, our mission at UPD is simple: to make Ukiah as safe as possible. If you have suggestions on how we can improve please feel free to call me. If you would like to know more about crime in your neighborhood, you can sign up for telephone, cell phone and email notifications by clicking the Nixle button on our website: www.ukiahpolice.com