Elgin police officers recognized by top brass, victim's family
Family members of an Elgin man shot to death in November were so touched by the help they received from police officers that they attended the police department's annual awards ceremony Tuesday to express their gratitude.
Marisa Munoz, the daughter of murder victim Norbert Gutierrez, said officers went "above and beyond" to make her family comfortable after her father was killed in his home in November.
Officers treated distraught relatives with care and consideration, accompanying them to the police station, purchasing food when no one felt like cooking and even bringing pancakes for the children the following morning, Munoz said after the ceremony at the Centre of Elgin. She came with her 14-year-old daughter, Janiya Sandoval, and her mother, Yolanda Gutierrez.
"They were just trying to make that rough time a little bit better," she said. "It was just amazing."
Alberto J. Sepeda of Elgin was charged with the crime. Authorities said he went to the home looking for his girlfriend, a longtime family friend, and after shooting Gutierrez forced a 25-year-old woman and a 1-year-old girl in his car and led police on a brief chase before being arrested.
The annual police awards event recognizes outstanding performances by police officers and civilian employees of the department, along with residents and businesses that stand out for their community service.
A supervisor's job includes recognizing great work, Police Chief Jeff Swoboda said. "We have to know that what we are doing matters," he said.
Lifesaving awards went to emergency dispatcher Shanna Marrazzo and Sgt. Todd Pavoris.
Marrazzo saved the life of a 3-year-old who was choking after giving "calm and clear" instructions to relatives over the phone about how to perform the Heimlich maneuver.
Pavoris rescued a woman who tried to kill herself by inhaling carbon monoxide after leaving her car running in her garage.
Sara Manrique, now a community service officer in Elgin, received the Explorer of the Year award. She helped steer the Explorer Program back on track after its leader, former Elgin animal control officer Jim Rog, pleaded guilty in June to stealing money from the program.
Teodolo Ravadan was named Rookie Of the Year, Mike McCarthy was Officer of the Year, Eric Echevarria was Manager of the Year, and Brooke Rzeppa was Civilian of the Year.
Father and son Cameron Jackson Sr. and Cameron Jackson Jr. received community service awards after they helped a neighbor who was attacked by a home intruder in November. The neighbor and the intruder, who was wielding a hammer, ended up fighting on the front lawn, and the Jacksons ran out to help the neighbor, chase the intruder and immobilize him until police arrived.