Special Agent Ryan Harding

(Federal Bureau of Investigation)

On March 13, 2013, an assailant entered a barbershop in Mohawk, New York, and shot four people, killing two and critically wounding two others. The assailant then drove to an auto shop in nearby Herkimer, New York, where he shot and killed two more innocent people. It was later learned that immediately prior to his murderous rampage, the assailant had also set fire to his own residence.

Responding to the shootings, a local police K9 officer tracked the assailant to an abandoned building in downtown Herkimer. As other law enforcement officers responded, the assailant exchanged gunfire with them from inside the building and then disappeared from sight. Over the next 13 hours, New York State Police (NYSP) deployed dozens of tear gas rounds and attempted to make verbal and visual contact with the assailant, utilizing robots, bullhorns, and various other technologies without results.

In the early morning of March 14, 2013, Special Agent Ryan D. Harding and other members of the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team (HRT) were deployed by helicopter from Quantico, Virginia, in order to assist FBI–Albany and the NYSP. The unified command, increasingly concerned about the assailant’s continued threat to the public and to law enforcement, directed HRT and NYSP to conduct a methodical clear of the building.

Special Agent Harding and his team had cleared deep into the structure when they were engaged at close range by the shooter, who extended his 12-gauge shotgun from around a doorway at the rear of the first floor. Special Agent Harding returned fire and sought cover, while at the same time directing his teammates out of the direct line of fire. Realizing they would be unable to safely break contact, the team deployed stun grenades and sent the HRT’s K9 into the doorway. The K9 immediately drew fire and was struck once in his camera mount, momentarily knocking him backwards. Undaunted, the K9 again leapt into fire and was mortally wounded.

Taking advantage of the split-second distraction that the K9 had provided, Special Agent Harding followed the dog into the doorway in order to protect his teammates from the shooter’s shotgun blasts. As Special Agent Harding entered the room, the shooter fired directly at him from mere feet away as he moved across the room. Special Agent Harding, followed closely by other members of the HRT, immediately engaged Myers, killing him and neutralizing the threat to himself and the rest of his team.

The exceptional courage and extraordinary decisiveness of Special Agent Harding saved the lives of other law enforcement personnel involved in the operation. Special Agent Harding went above and beyond the call of duty to protect the lives of his teammates.

Due to the deployment of this recipient, the CBOB was presented to his family in a private ceremony the week of January 25, 2016.