Uncle, nephew saved women, kids from knife-wielder

Uncle, nephew saved women, kids from knife-wielder

MEDFORD — An uncle and nephew who protected women and children from a knife-wielding felon last spring were among several Medford residents recognized by police for courageous acts last year.

Gary Zoll and his nephew Adam Zoll were honored Wednesday night at the Rogue Valley Country Club along with a number of Medford police officers for their service with the department.

Gary Zoll, 51, who owns Zoll's Lawn & Garden Equipment on West Main Street, heard yelling and cursing coming from a nearby playground on May 3, 2008.

He and Adam, 18, investigated the commotion and saw a man screaming at three women and several children.

"He was really scaring them, so we decided to head over there," Gary Zoll said. "We hopped in Adam's truck and confronted him."

They found themselves face-to-face with 62-year-old Howard William Baker, who had just been released from prison, according to Jackson County Circuit Court records.

"We got between him and the ladies and kids and he started cursing at us," Gary Zoll said.

Baker pulled a steak knife from his waist and threatened the pair. Gary Zoll grabbed a metal folding gate and held Baker at bay until Baker fled on his bicycle. Medford police arrested him shortly after and charged him with several counts of menacing, disorderly conduct and unlawful possession of a dangerous weapon.

"The adrenaline was pumping," Gary Zoll said. "We were just glad the women and kids made it to their cars safely."

In addition to the Zolls, other Medford residents recognized for courageous acts last year were:

  • Adrian Castillo-Calderon, who pulled a man from a burning car in November.
  • Jennifer Stubbs, who called in a burglary of her neighbor's home, which helped police solve four other burglaries when the suspect was tied to those crimes.
  • Stephanie Risner, who helped develop "survival bags" for kids going through the Children's Advocacy Center for a Girl Scout project.
  • Mark Melton and Steven Knutson, who helped revive a 2-year-old who fell into a swimming pool.
  • Ryan Frost and Gordon Waite, two UPS drivers who subdued a man who robbed a liquor store.
  • Shelly Miller, who is a founding member of the Southern Oregon Financial Fraud and Security Team.

Medford officers who were honored included:

  • Master Police Officer Scott Clauson, for his services as a hostage negotiator.
  • Officers Stacey Krouse and Brian Hall, who subdued a suicidal man who had two large knives on his belt and who was reaching for a rifle.
  • Officer Trevor Arnold, who was named the Drug Recognition Evaluator of the Year in Oregon.
  • Officer Mike Miles, who was recognized for his work improving the training officer program.
  • Sgt. Steve Johnson, who worked to get the department ready to pass the Commission of Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies test.
  • Officer Patrick Dennis, who saved the life of a teenage girl who attempted to hang herself.
  • Officer Michael Todd, who rescued a woman who almost drowned in a hot tub.
  • Officer Geoff Kirkpatrick, who received the Top Gun Award for having the highest shooting range scores for 2008.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 776-4471; or e-mail

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