Helping catch a suspect lands students accolades for heroism

Elizabeth Cook

The University Police Department awarded two people, including a former student, with the Medal of Merit on Friday.

The award is given to police officers or citizens who display bravery or put themselves at risk in assisting police.

Luke Beck, a member of Sigma Alpha Mu and Grant Melquist, a student at Minnesota State-Mankato, were presented the awards at a ceremony at the police department.

Melquist attended with family and friends, but Beck was unable to because he is in military basic training.

Lynn Gerhard, assistant to the University police chief and deputy police chief, said the ceremony was the “largest turnout for people for an awards ceremony.”

These awards have been given to students in the past, Police Chief Greg Hestness said, but not frequently.

Beck and Melquist were rewarded for their efforts in trying to catch a suspect Oct. 21.

That night, officer David Wilske attempted to make a traffic stop, but the driver fled on foot.

The chase went through Dinkytown and 10th Avenue Southeast. The driver of the car ended up crashing into another car, then running from police.

The suspect ran across the lawn of Sigma Alpha Mu, and Beck and Melquist began to chase him.

The two tried to stop the suspect with leg sweeps; he didn’t fall, but did slow down. The two chased the suspect until he crossed 10th Avenue Southeast, where Wilske arrested him.

After the incident, Wilske wrote a letter to Hestness about what the two men had done.

At the ceremony, Melquist was awarded a plaque and letter of appreciation.

“I’m very grateful to you for your assistance,” Wilske said.

Melquist said he immediately helped that night because “I just knew I had to.”

Melquist said he did not think about the danger he was putting himself in until after he started chasing the suspect.

“While I was running after him, that’s when I got scared,” Melquist said.

Paul Melquist, Grant Melquist’s uncle, was there to watch the ceremony.

“It’s one of those things where you act first and think second,” Paul Melquist said.

Lindsay Melquist, a communications studies sophomore and Grant Melquist’s cousin, said it’s part of his personality to react that way.

Lindsay Melquist said she’s honored and proud or her cousin.

Daniel Abrams, the president of Sigma Alpha Mu, said incidents like this don’t happen in front of their house often, and the fraternity is proud of the people who helped.

“We wouldn’t expect anything less,” Abrams said.

John McInerney, vice president of Sigma Alpha Mu, who also was there the night of the chase, said he is proud of his fraternity brother.

“It’s an honor for him and our organization,” McInereny said.