Airman recognized for peaceful end to potentially deadly situation

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --

After 16 years as a U.S. Air Force Security Forces member, Master Sgt. Maurice Lucas II had never needed to pull his duty weapon out of his holster while serving at his home base.

That commendable streak ended Oct. 8, 2016.

Then-Tech. Sgt. Lucas was working as flight chief in charge of the 412th Security Forces Squadron’s patrols when he got a call from the law enforcement desk around 6 p.m. about a man who was possibly armed and barricaded in a housing area on Edwards. The call also said the subject had possible “suicidal ideations.”

Lucas had to respond from the Air Force Research Laboratory facilities far from main base and radioed ahead to his fellow 412th SFS defenders to secure the area.

“I hightailed it back to main base from the North Gate. When I arrived on scene it was sort of a cluster,” Lucas said. He got specific information from the subject’s wife, who was the one who made the call to Security Forces. She told Lucas her husband had been drinking, was really irritated, that he had a pistol and a rifle and was going to try to commit suicide.

After getting the exact address from the spouse, Lucas positioned his troops and then parked his vehicle  two houses away from the subject’s house behind an “old rusty truck” that was on the street. After exiting his vehicle, he saw the subject poking his head in and out of the garage looking at him.

“I pulled my duty firearm for my safety and started verbally challenging the individual, and that’s when he came out of the garage. He didn’t have a weapon on him that I could see. He was talking on his cell phone. I didn’t know if he had a weapon in his waistband or anything of that sort. He started yelling at me.”

In a neighboring yard a parent and two children were playing.

“The subject yelled to the father and told him to immediately take his kids inside so I thought, ‘This means he is really adamant about either suicide by cop or he’s going to pull his firearm and do severe damage,’ so I kept on challenging him. He kept on coming at me and he wasn’t listening to anything I was saying to him. At this point my patrols came up behind me and they had their M4s drawn on the subject. I kept repeating for him to get down on the ground, stop, halt, but nothing.”

Lucas said the man kept approaching him, yelling and cursing and got within Lucas’ “reactionary gap,” which is a tactical term for a distance at which a law enforcement officer still has time to react before a suspect or subject is upon the officer. 

“I made a conscious decision, knowing that I had backup, to secure my firearm (in the holster) and go hands-on at that point. I went hands-on and placed him in a prone position and then one of my guys came in and assisted with the apprehension.”

Lucas added that once the man was handcuffed he started yelling, “Hey, you guys are supposed to kill me. I’ve seen this in the movies done plenty of times before.”

“He said, ‘Kill me. Kill me right now,’” Lucas said.

Upon searching him, the man didn’t have a firearm on him but had two boxes of .40 caliber ammunition in his pockets.

Lucas went to check the garage where he saw the man was poking his head out.

“There was a couch pulled to the wall and he had his .40 caliber XD pistol with a round in the chamber and multiple rounds and magazines right there ready to go. His car was backed into the garage with the trunk open. Right next to his trunk was a stool with a quarter bottle of Jameson left and a glass he had been drinking out of, so he was obviously intoxicated.”

Lucas then noticed the car’s trunk was open, as he took a look inside he discovered an M4 assault rifle with an M68 red dot sight that was turned on. There was a round in the chamber with the selector switch moved to the fire position with a 40-round magazine attached and about six additional 30-round magazines loaded.

“He also had a shotgun with a round in the chamber, fully loaded with a grocery bag full of shotgun shells ready to go,” said Lucas.

“I’m sure if we didn’t catch him right then and there, with the element of surprise we had, that it could have been a totally different scenario. It could’ve been a nightmare.”

For his actions that evening, Lucas was awarded his fourth Air Force Commendation Medal Aug. 2.

Edwards Airman recognized for peaceful end to potentially deadly situation
Col. George Tromba, 412th Mission Support Group commander, presents Master Sgt. Maurice Lucas II, 412th Security Forces Squadron, with the Air Force Commendation Medal (third oak leaf cluster) during a commander’s call Aug. 2 at the Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., base theater. (U.S. Air Force photo/Kyle Larson)
Edwards Airman recognized for peaceful end to potentially deadly situation Edwards Airman recognized for peaceful end to potentially deadly situation
Col. George Tromba, 412th Mission Support Group commander, presents Master Sgt. Maurice Lucas II, 412th Security Forces Squadron, with the Air Force Commendation Medal (third oak leaf cluster) during a commander’s call Aug. 2 at the Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., base theater. (U.S. Air Force photo/Kyle Larson)

“You always revert to your training, and I think that I’ve been trained quite well by the Air Force, and my techniques and tactics that day were spot on, I would say,” Lucas said. “Usually, when you’re in charge in that type of scenario you just make sure your troops are in the right position and they’re doing the right thing; listening to exactly what you’re saying, and you just react to the different types of scenarios that are brought to your attention.”

Lucas is originally from Portland, Oregon, and is the son of former professional basketball player Maurice Lucas, who was an all-star and NBA champion with the Portland Trailblazers.

Lucas says he’s the only one in his family that he knows of who pursued a military career, and he has enjoyed the path he has taken.

"The actions of Master Sgt. Lucas on the day in question are indicative of his courage and selfless approach to being a defender,” said Chief Master Sgt. Michael Young, 412th SFS, security forces manager. “We often hear of the valor our Airmen display on the battlefront, but that same courage and sacrifice is needed right here on Edwards. Master Sgt. Lucas personifies that courage and I could not be prouder of him and am grateful for the privilege to serve with every defender here and around the world."