Highway Troopers Honored For Their Response To Deadly 2020 Shooting Of Tulsa Officers

Wednesday, September 22nd 2021, 3:03 pm
By: Reagan Ledbetter

NORMAN, Oklahoma -

Two Oklahoma Highway Patrol Troopers are being honored for their heroic efforts after two Tulsa Police officers were shot during a traffic stop last summer. 

Troopers Justin Mathews and Tyler Sephus were awarded the “Trooper Of The Year” Award today for rushing to the scene and loading Sergeant Craig Johnson and Officer Aurash Zarkeshan into their patrol cars to get them to an ambulance. 

Troopers Mathews and Sephus only have a combined eight years as troopers under their belt, but they have now earned the highest honor within OHP for their courage and valor. Troopers Sephus and Mathews say hearing “officers down” on the radio is something they never want to hear again. Their only focus that night was getting to the scene and helping their brothers. 

“It’s an unfortunate situation. We went there to help. We don’t feel like we did anything extraordinary,” said Mathews.

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The Troopers were working the night shift on June 29th, 2020 when the call went out over the radio that two Tulsa Police Officers had been shot. 

Matthews and Sephus raced to the scene and started lifesaving first aid for Sergeant Johnson and Officer Zarkeshan. 

“It was pretty chaotic when we showed up on the scene. All I had to do was tell Justin to get your unit and he knew exactly what we were about to do. From there we loaded up our brothers and did the best we could,” said Sephus. 

Trooper Sephus put Sergeant Johnson in the back seat of his patrol car to take him to the nearest ambulance, while Trooper Mathews helped Zarkeshan. 

“We were on the same page pretty quick. And it just came to helping your brothers out,” said Mathews. 

The troopers say they had trained for almost the exact same scenario only a month before the shooting, so they knew what to do. They then joined in the manhunt for the suspect, David Ware. The troopers say it doesn’t matter what uniform you’re wearing, law enforcement is one big family. 

“On night shift we are a pretty close group. We eat together, we are always around each other, we go to each other's calls, so like I said when something like that goes out on the radio, you just react,” said Sephus.