Eric Blades of Durant was recently named Trooper of the Year at the Department of Public Safety’s 75th Anniversary banquet. The events leading to Trooper Blade’s achievement centered on his heroic actions taken against three Wright City bank robbery suspects, which lead into a pursuit that ended with two of the suspects expiring from fatal gunshot wounds.
On June 16, 2011, Trooper Blades responded to an armed robbery call in Wright City that occurred at approximately 1:00 p.m. where a robber walked into the bank, pointed a revolver into the air and said, “it’s tough times,” before demanding money from the tellers. The robber told the tellers to fill a garbage bag with money, Agent Clay Simmonds said.
Traveling east on State Highway 3 Trooper Blades spotted a Dodge pickup traveling west matching the description of the vehicle used in the bank robbery. While attempting to make contact with the vehicle a pursuit began, reaching speeds at over 100 mph. Radioing ahead Trooper Blades made contact with Rattan Police Department where a roadblock was set; in attempts to avoid spike-strips the vehicle exited the roadway and entered into a post office parking lot before reentering the roadway. Trooper Blades continued the pursuit towards another roadblock set by Oklahoma Highway Patrol when the vehicle exited onto a private drive approximately five miles east of Antlers into a field. Once the vehicle reached a locked gate at the back of the property, Trooper Blades exited from his patrol car with his rifle giving verbal commands for the driver and two passengers to exit the vehicle. In disregard for Trooper Blades’ commands the vehicle backed towards the patrol car and accelerated directly towards Trooper Blades. In defense of his safety shots were fired into the vehicle before it departed back toward State Highway 3 and came to rest a mile from the private drive.
It is with this great personal danger to himself that Trooper Blades kept his focus on bringing the desolate pursuit to an end, minimizing injury or potentially even death to the general public, according to the accommodation. He acted quickly, with great skill, making precise and sound decisions that led to Trooper Blades being named Trooper of the Year at the Department of Public Safety’s 75th Anniversary Banquet held at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City on May 11.