College student awarded Carnegie Medal for tackling armed man in DC

A college student is being recognized for tackling an armed man to the ground in D.C. last summer. 

Tuesday it was announced that Tucker Shields, who saved a couple held at gunpoint, was awarded a Carnegie Medal. 

The medal is given throughout the U.S. and Canada to someone who “entered extreme danger while saving or attempting to save the lives of others” according to the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission. 

“It’s a really, really huge honor to win,” said Shields.

At around 2 a.m. on July 31, 2021, Shields was waiting for an Uber on N Street near Nationals Park when he saw Kevin Alkinburg, 24, and his girlfriend being harassed by a man demanding they kiss. Then the assailant pulled a loaded gun and aimed it at Alkinburg. 

Shields saw the situation and didn’t think twice. 

“I glanced and noticed that, yeah, he was holding a revolver and so I ran and tackled him down. He shot at me while I was tackling him,” Shields told WTOP.  

The shot missed, but it caused Shields to lose hearing in his left ear for a month. He also chipped several teeth. 

Alkinburg and Shields held the gunman to the ground until police arrived.

Shields didn’t think what he did was heroic; he said he didn’t even really think about his own safety.

“All I saw was the gun and that he had pointed it at people. I could have told you the make of the gun, I saw the gun in detail. And that’s when I jumped in,” Shields told WTOP. 

The gunman pleaded guilty to several charges, and was sentenced to about a year in prison.

“I remember waking up the next morning and not thinking it was real,” Shields remembered. “At first I tried to keep it from getting out. I didn’t really want people to hear about it … definitely not my parents,” said Shields. 

When his mother found out, he said, she was a mixture of proud and angry that he almost died.

Shields was a college student at the University of Georgia at the time, and interning at a law firm in D.C.

When he went back for his final year at Georgia, his takedown was the talk of all his peers. He said he was asked to tell the story hundreds of times. 

“It got a little bit exhausting,” Shields said. “It’s a shocking thing to hear about one of your friends.” 

He put it out of his mind until he was contacted this January by the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission. After representatives of the organization gathered all the facts, Shields didn’t hear back from them for several months. 

“I didn’t think much of it and I just kind of assumed I didn’t get it,” said Shields. 

He graduated from college in early May and a short time later he was told he had won the prestigious Carnegie Medal. 

The Carnegie Medal is a bronze medallion three inches in diameter with a relief of Andrew Carnegie. It also includes a Bible verse: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). 

“Going into college, I would have never thought I’d come out with a heroism award. It’s just wild,” said Shields. “I’m gonna keep this the rest of my life and it’ll probably go on my headstone and my grave.” 

Luke Lukert

Since joining WTOP Luke Lukert has held just about every job in the newsroom from producer to web writer and now he works as a full-time reporter. He is an avid fan of UGA football. Go Dawgs!

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