WOODSTOCK – In the evening hours of April 15, 2016, McHenry County Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Urgo and Sgt. Anthony Penna were on the hunt for a double-murder suspect who authorities said stole a vehicle in Florida and reportedly was somewhere in the county.
The two officers, along with two Lake County Sheriff’s deputies, had been told by Kentucky detectives about the suspect – who later was identified as Gerald Boyes Jr. – and their search began.
Boyes was seen at a bar in McHenry County, and officers followed him through the county into Lake County before he parked at an Antioch pub. The four officers came up with a plan to confront and arrest Boyes, and Urgo placed his squad car behind the parked car so that it was unable to go anywhere because cars were on either side of the parking spot, giving them a “target of opportunity.”
Officers walked up to the car, saw Boyes – the man who had reportedly stolen a vehicle from Florida after he killed his father, Gerald Boyes Sr., and his companion from Paducah, Kentucky, Billie Potter – in the driver’s seat, Penna said. An arrest warrant also was out for Boyes for a parole violation in Florida.
Officers told Boyes he was under arrest, but “he wanted to go for a handgun,” Penna said.
“A couple of us said ‘gun,’ and shots were fired,” he said.
All four deputies fired, and Boyes was killed. Boyes shot himself in the head during the incident, but autopsy results were inconclusive in determining whether it was the self-inflicted wound that killed him, Lake County Chief Deputy Coroner Orlando Portillo has said.
Urgo and Penna were honored Feb. 21 as Officers of the Year by the McHenry County Chiefs of Police Association for how they handled the incident.
“Sgt. Penna’s and Deputy Urgo’s ability to stop the threat in a high-risk situation is a testament to their law enforcement abilities and professionalism,” the association said in a statement.
Penna, now with 25 years of experience, said he and Urgo are fortunate enough to have been provided with an abundance of training to prepare them for these types of situations. What ended up being one of the most crucial aspects of the incident was that they didn’t rush in trying to arrest Boyes right away.
In addition to the first firearm, a handgun was found in Boyes’ belt and another on the passenger seat.
“Nothing’s ever perfect, but the incident went the way we planned, for the most part,” Penna said. “It’s an honor to be recognized, but more importantly, we do what we’re trained to do.”
Urgo, with 10 years of experience, said their actions were part of a collaborative effort with law enforcement officers from multiple states and jurisdictions. He said when keeping situations such as this in mind, it’s important for officers, no matter where they are working, to remain vigilant and stay committed to training and safety.
“Thankfully, our training and experience was what allowed us to bring a safe resolution for all of the law enforcement officers involved,” Urgo said. “It’s definitely an award for everybody on the law enforcement side, not just me.”
The other nominees for this year’s award were Algonquin Police Officer Andrew Dykstra, Harvard Police Sgt. Andrew Spielman, Wonder Lake Police Sgt. Lee Redlin and Woodstock Police Officer William Lintner. Officers were picked by their department in the fall, and the nominees are voted on by members of the McHenry County Chiefs of Police Association.