Gowanda police officer receives ‘high honor’ medal

OBSERVER Photo by Andrew David Kuczkowski Gowanda Village Mayor David Smith, middle, congratulates Gowanda Police Officer Peter “PJ” Randall, second from right, for his life saving measures after Alexis John, far right, was stabbed on March 7 on Chestnut Street. State Senator Cathy Young, R-Olean, on far left, gave Randall the Liberty Medal, which was approved by the state Senate and is around his neck. Also pictured is Gowanda’s Officer-in-Charge Dennis Feldmann.

GOWANDA — New York State Sen. Cathy Young, R-Olean, did not want the actions of Gowanda Police Officer Peter “PJ” Randall to go unnoticed.

On April 6, Young requested the state Senate approve a resolution to give Randall a Liberty Medal, which Young described as “the highest honor that the state Senate can bestow upon anyone.”

On Tuesday, Young made a special appearance to hand deliver the medal to Randall as he reunited with the victim, Alexis John, at the Gowanda Village Board meeting.

“I just want to say to you, thank you so much for the great job that you do for caring about the community so much for being so professional and so quick thinking,” Young said, “and without you, Alexis would not be here tonight.”

On March 7 at 8:06 p.m., Gowanda Police were informed of a stabbing on Chestnut Street. Within 90 seconds, officer Randall was on scene applying pressure to an open wound of a 14-year-old girl, who was lying on a snowbank. She was driven to Lake Shore Hospital via Gowanda Ambulance and then taken to Women and Children’s Hospital for further treatment.

After Young placed the medal around Randall’s neck, the officer took the stage to voice his thoughts. Instead of taking the credit for the heroic actions that many believed saved the young girl’s life, he stressed the importance of the actions from those around him.

“This wasn’t anything extraordinary that I did,” Randall humbly said. “Gowanda EMS was there right behind me, they took over care, along with the sheriff’s and state police.”

Randall credited his reaction to God and was thankful for the result.

Once John was given the floor to speak, she was speechless.

“Thank you,” John said with a choked-up voice then paused. “I don’t know what to say.”

“Thank you, I think, sums it all up,” Young followed.

Gowanda Mayor David Smith and Gowanda Police’s Officer-in-Charge Dennis Feldmann then joined the trio in the front of the board room.

Smith’s role in the village gave him two perspectives. As an assistant principal, he knew John personally and as the mayor, he was privy to the immediate details that took place March 7.

“I’ve known Alexis since she came to Gowanda,” Smith began. “We’ve spent some time together in good ways and not-so good ways sometimes. She’s an awesome young lady with a heart of gold that you can tell. When that occurred that night, I was just sick.

“… The heroism that (Randall) displayed on a quick-thinking action, no doubt saved this young lady’s life and Gowanda is better for it. I love you, kid.”

Smith followed that with a grand bear hug with John.

Feldmann read a letter of commendation and a medal that Randall will wear on his uniform to honor his life-saving actions.

“It is important for you to know your good deeds and excellent work are not going unnoticed,” Feldmann said. “Thank you for all that you do every day.”

Young added that the proclamation was approved unanimously.

“And when does that happen in Albany?” Young joked and then spoke to Randall, “Everyone in the Senate agreed that you are an outstanding citizen.”

Twitter: @ByKuczkowski