THE Garryowen man who prevented a “chaotic” incident from escalating when he arrested a murder suspect at a high school in the United States received a national award of bravery last week.
James (Séamus) Kiely, who resided in Limerick up until 1986, received the National Award of Valor in Florida last week, for arresting a boy who stabbed 16-year-old Maren Sanchez to death on the morning of her prom night.
James, who works as a police officer at the Jonathan Law High School in Connecticut said he is “honoured and proud” to receive the national recognition.
The National Association of School Resource Officers, who presented the award to the 50-year-old Limerickman, commended him for his “courageous actions and bravery”.
“Officer Kiely performed decisively and valiantly in the face of danger. We are thankful for his exemplary actions and proud to honor him with this prestigious award,” stated the executive director Mo Canady
James, a former employee of the Limerick Leader, who served the paper in the early 1980s, said it was one of the toughest experiences of his 20-year career as a law enforcer in the States.
“I knew the girl, I knew them both. I actually said ‘Good morning’ to both of them when they arrived at school in the morning. The weeks that followed is the big thing; trying to support the staff and the kids at the school, and giving them the help they needed to get through the whole thing,” he told the Leader.
Though James has been called to “numerous” murder scenes, he admitted that Maren’s death was the toughest case.
His brother, Pat Kiely, is a station officer at the Limerick Fire Service, and he said that he and his family are “proud” of James’ achievement.
James visits Limerick every year with his son Morgan and wife Susan.