The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) on May 2 announced Sergeant Jeff Mathes, Detectives Zachary Plese, Ryan Cagle and Michael Collazo, and Officer Rex Engelbert of the Metropolitan Nashville, Tennessee, Police Department as its Officers of the Month for March 2023. These officers were selected for their bravery and heroism following an active shooter incident at an elementary school.
On March 27, 2023, just after 10 a.m., 9-1-1 operators began receiving calls about an active shooter inside a private elementary school just south of downtown Nashville. Officers from around the area rapidly converged on the scene. Within minutes of the initial call, Sergeant Mathes, Detectives Plese, Cable and Collazo, and Officer Engelbert arrived at the school and immediately made entry. They wasted no time in finding and ultimately shooting the suspect, who was still actively firing through a window at arriving police cars.
Three children and three adults were fatally wounded by the shooter. While the loss of life was incredibly tragic, there is no question that the rapid and professional response by Nashville police officers prevented even further loss of life. This incident serves to highlight how essential it is to have law enforcement professionals ready and willing to intervene when chaos and violence erupt in our communities.
“These officers exemplify the very best of the law enforcement profession. There is no question that through their ability to run towards the danger and selflessly place themselves in harm’s way, they saved lives that day in Nashville,” NLEOMF CEO Marcia Ferranto said. “We are humbled and proud to honor Sergeant Jeff Mathes, Detectives Zachary Plese, Ryan Cagle and Michael Collazo, and Officer Rex Engelbert as our Officers of the Month for March 2023.”
The Officer of the Month Award Program is sponsored by the Police Unity Tour and recognizes federal, state and local officers who distinguish themselves through exemplary law enforcement service and devotion to duty.
Established in 1984, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to honoring the fallen, telling the story of American law enforcement, and making it safer for those who serve. The first pillar of this mission, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C., honors the names of all of the 23,229 officers who have died in the line of duty to date throughout U.S. history. Additionally, NLEOMF maintains and publishes comprehensive details on the circumstances surrounding official line-of-duty deaths. The Officer Safety and Wellness pillar uses that data, coupled with best-practice program models, to produce programming directed at solutions to improve survivability and enhance wellness. NLEOMF’s third pillar, the National Law Enforcement Museum (LawEnforcementMuseum.org), is committed to preserving the history of American law enforcement and sharing the experiences of service and sacrifice for generations to come.