The Medal of Valor is the Department’s highest award, earned by employees distinguishing themselves by conspicuous bravery or heroism above and beyond the normal demands of correctional service. The employee shall display great courage in the face of immediate life-threatening peril and with full knowledge of the risk involved. The act should show professional judgment and not jeopardize operations or the lives of others.
Luis Cardenas, Parole Agent 1, Division of Adult Parole Operations
On December 28, 2020, Agent Cardenas was checking in on a parolee near the Walmart Store at Fashion Plaza in Bakersfield when he heard multiple gunshots coming from the store and saw people running. He assessed the situation and notified law enforcement with his radio.
Agent Cardenas saw a man with a firearm and approached him with his state-issued firearm drawn. Identifying himself as a state parole agent, Cardenas ordered the man to drop the firearm.
The man dropped the firearm but said he had picked it up after the actual shooter had dropped it before running inside the store. Multiple witnesses pointed into the store and said the shooter ran inside. Later, an investigation revealed that the shooter had fired into the parking lot and then discarded the firearm when it jammed.
Agent Cardenas seized the gun and entered the store. A female employee frantically approached him and pointed to the suspect who was standing near the jewelry counter.
Agent Cardenas approached the suspect who surrendered to him without incident. He held the suspect at gunpoint until the arrival of Bakersfield Police Department officers and assisted them to take him into custody. He also stayed with the suspect as police officers evacuated the store and cleared the building for any other threats or additional suspects.
There were no injuries or deaths and the Bakersfield Police Department acknowledged the efforts of Agent Cardenas in taking the suspect into custody.