When 26-year-old Tyler Brehm went on a shooting rampage Dec. 9 near the intersection of Sunset Boulevard and Vine Street in Hollywood, Calif., motorists and pedestrians sought cover as he fired a .40-caliber handgun in the air and at passing motorists. Three bullets struck the driver of a silver Mercedes-Benz, and music industry executive John Atterberry died from wounds to his neck and face.
Nearby, Los Angeles Police Department burglary Detective Craig Marquez, a 1991 graduate of Baldwin High School, had just made a stop for coffee around 10:30 a.m.
"I had just walked out of the coffee shop when I heard the gunshots," Marquez said Friday. Then, he responded to the scene.
CRAIG MARQUEZ, “You fall back on your training”
(Photos from the shooting are posted on the Los Angeles Times website. To see them, go online to tinyurl.com/7lgjlaz. Although he is not identified in the caption of the second photo, Marquez can be seen - gun in hand - running toward the suspect.)
What happened in the next few minutes of terror on that sunny day has led the LAPD to award Marquez with the department's Medal of Valor. The 38-year-old former Kula resident will receive the honor May 10 in Los Angeles, a short distance from the shooting scene.
On May 12, Marquez and LAPD motorcycle officer Kevin Cotter, who also responded to the shooting, will be presented with one of the nation's 10 "Top Cop" awards by President Barack Obama on the south lawn of the White House. Then, on May 22, Marquez will receive the Award of Valor from the California Police Officers Association.
"It feels kind of strange to get an individual award in an environment where teamwork is such a big part of it," Marquez said in the phone interview. "We're not heroes. We're just doing our jobs. We were just doing what people expect us to do."
According to the Los Angeles Police Department, Marquez immediately drove to the area of the shooting.
"As he drove to the intersection of Sunset and Vine, he continued seeing many people running in the opposite direction, seeking cover behind parking meters, crouched behind parked cars and lying on the sidewalk," the LAPD statement said. "Responding from his location, he was the first officer on the scene."
In the phone interview, Marquez said he was limited in what he could say about his thoughts and feelings at the time because details of the shooting remain under an intense review process. But, "I was obviously scared," he recalled.
"You fall back on your training," the former Marine said. "You fall back on what other officers taught you."
The department said that Marquez, and another officer identified by him as Cotter, "approached the suspect from the street, moving from car to car. (Marquez) kept walking past people who were hiding behind cars and lying on the ground in fear of their lives as they were not able to leave the area and screaming at him to take immediate action against the suspect.
"With total disregard for his personal safety, Detective Marquez confronted the suspect and ordered him to drop his knife and submit to arrest. The suspect had a gun in his waistband. The suspect refused to comply with the commands and inexplicably ran toward him. Detective Marquez fired his service weapon, striking the suspect and causing him to fall to the ground."
Brehm, who was despondent over a recent breakup with a girlfriend and reportedly screamed that he wanted to die, was mortally wounded by the police gunfire.
In the phone interview, Marquez said Cotter also shot the man, but neither officer knows which one killed the man.
Marquez said he was taken off duty as part of the investigation but was able to return to work after a couple of days and after speaking with a department psychologist. For days after the shooting, the rush of adrenaline made it difficult to sleep, he said.
Marquez is the son of Ben and Linda Marquez of Kula. His older brother, Ben Jr., is a culinary arts instructor at the University of Hawaii Maui College. His younger brother, Kirt, is a mechanic at Aloha Shell.
The senior Ben Marquez is semiretired and works as a golf course landscaper at the Pukalani Country Club. He said that when he first heard that his son had been involved in a shooting in Los Angeles, "I was kind of scared, but when I found out about the outcome I was proud of him."
"Something like that can never be taught," he said of his son's bravery.
Linda Marquez, an employee at Maui Office Machines, will travel to Los Angeles to see her son receive the Medal of Valor.
She also expressed relief that her son survived the shooting uninjured.
"He is at peace with it," she said. "He saved lives. . . . That's his job. Being in Los Angeles you accept whatever happens."
Mrs. Marquez said her son's courage came as no surprise to her.
"It's at that moment," she said, "you do what you're trained to do."
Marquez is divorced and has a 14-year-old daughter and an 8-year-old son.
* Brian Perry can be reached at email@example.com.