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Governor Awards Parole Agent Gold Star for Bravery

During a shooting incident at a Walmart store, a member of the CDCR staff displayed exceptional courage by ensuring the safety of over 100 individuals

WEST SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom today honored retired Parole Agent Luis Cardenas with the Gold Star at the State Employee Medal of Valor ceremony, praising his efforts to stop a shooter in Bakersfield.  The award is the highest state award presented to a public safety officer.

During a parolee check near a Walmart store in Bakersfield on Dec. 28, 2020, Agent Cardenas heard gunshots. He quickly notified law enforcement and approached a person carrying a firearm. He identified himself as a state parole agent and instructed the individual to safely dispose of the weapon.

According to the man, he found the firearm on the ground after the real shooter had dropped it and fled into the store. Several witnesses confirmed seeing the shooter running inside the store.  

Upon grabbing the firearm, Agent Cardenas quickly entered the store. A panicked female staff member hurried over and indicated the location of the suspect near the jewelry section.  

Agent Cardenas approached the suspect, who surrendered without incident. Agent Cardenas held the suspect at gunpoint until Bakersfield Police Department officers arrived to take him into custody. Agent Cardenas remained and helped ensure the safety of more than 100 shoppers while the police evacuated the store and secured the premises against any further threats or potential accomplices. 

The suspect was successfully taken into custody. There were no injuries or fatalities. On the day of the incident, Bakersfield Police Department recognized Agent Cardenas’ commendable efforts in apprehending the suspect. Today, Governor Gavin Newson is honoring the courage and heroism displayed. In 2021, Agent Cardenas was recognized for his bravery at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s (CDCR) Medal of Valor Ceremony

“We take pride in Agent Cardenas’ actions, which exemplify the CDCR employees’ commitment to prioritizing the welfare of their community,” said CDCR Secretary Jeff Macomber. “Thanks to his bravery, the shooter surrendered without any fatalities or injuries. We need more people like Luis Cardenas in our communities.” 

Although retired from CDCR, Cardenas keeps himself busy taking care of bees. He works as a beekeeper, collaborating with numerous buzzing companions, to assist in the pollination process of plants. His knowledge about these small insects reflects his positive attitude towards the community. “The bees are ready to place their individual needs after the needs of the hive,” he said. 

The California Department of Human Resources sponsors the Governor’s State Employee Medal of Valor Award. The employee’s department makes the award nominations. The statewide Merit Award Board reviews the nominations. The Director of CalHR selects the awardees. Since the program began in 1959, over 700 state employees have received Medals of Valor. 

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June 21, 2023   

Contact: CDCR Press Office