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St. Paul police chief honors citizens and officers for heroics

Two citizens helped thwart a crime and catch a suspect, and officers saved lives in a suicide attempt and a house fire.

Two St. Paul citizens and three police officers will get commendations this week from St. Paul Police Chief Tom Smith.

Getting the Chief’s Award are:

Blia Xiong and her sister, Mang Truong, who intervened in a purse snatching last year. Xiong yelled at the suspect, who then returned the purse to the victim. They called the police and gave descriptions of the man and his car, and police later were called in to identify the driver of the car, who was arrested for a suspected criminal sexual conduct case.

Police give the two women credit for return of the purloined purse and, unknowingly, helping to apprehend a suspect in another case.

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Officer Mark Grundhauser, who was working this spring as a parking enforcement officer and saw an upset man, a veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder, near the High Bridge. Grundhauser calmed the man, who was threatening to jump, by showing him the Army pin on his uniform and talking about the man’s time in Afghanistan. Other officers arrived and took the man to Regions Hospital for evaluation.

Last week, Grundhauser graduated from the police academy.

Receiving a Chief’s Life Saving Award are:

Officers Rod Larson and Michael Whisler, who responded to an arson fire last winter and learned there were residents inside. They kicked in the door, and a resident in the smoke-filled main floor told them four people were still upstairs. The officers crawled along the floor, yelling for the others to get out. As four people, including a 2-year-old and an infant, came down the stairs, they rushed them out the door to safety.

Whisler has since been promoted to sergeant.