There's Quite a Bit More to the Story of Adam Kinzinger Saving a Woman's Life

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

On a warm August night in 2006, just after midnight, Rep. Adam Kinzinger’s life changed. Kinzinger and his girlfriend, Megan, were walking on North Avenue in Milwaukee when they saw a woman standing in the middle of the road, holding her neck, her shirt stained with blood, and a man with a knife running toward her. As many know, since Kinzinger subsequently rode the hero story to fame, Kinzinger tackled the man and held him until police arrived and was awarded the United States Air Force Airman’s Medal for his actions that night. However, like many things Kinzinger claims, there’s some truth to what he says, but the facts don’t square with his description, and in Kinzinger’s version he’s the most courageous actor in the scenario. And in this particular story, Kinzinger doesn’t have any qualms with stealing valor from a woman, at least in some versions of it.


The attacker that night, Ryan Thundercloud, was in a strained relationship with the woman, Jerri Lobermeir, and the two shared a child. They had been arguing that night. Lobermeir had made a comment about him dating another woman. Lobermeir allegedly said, “Too bad a car isn’t coming so it could hit me.” Thundercloud had been drinking. He was also a schizophrenic taking prescription medication called Ziprasidone but had missed his medication that evening. As the two walked up North Avenue, Thundercloud pulled a Swiss army knife out of his pocket, grabbed Lobermeir, and cut the front of her throat. He also punched her several times on the head. Lobermeir finally realized the severity of her wound and ran into the street away from Thundercloud. In the middle of North Street, she was almost struck by a car and a motorcycle. She attempted to flag down vehicles and pedestrians to help her.

Kinzinger and his date saw and heard Lobermeir and came to her aid. This is where the details differ.

If one took Kinzinger’s version at face value, he singlehandedly saved Lobermeir from certain death while taking the knife from the assailant. Kinzinger’s official congressional biography says that’s what happened:

“In 2007, he received the United States Air Force Airman’s Medal for saving the life of a young woman who was being violently attacked. He wrestled the knife away from the attacker and pinned him to the ground until the police arrived. He was also awarded the National Guard’s Valley Forge Cross for Heroism and was selected as the Southeastern Wisconsin American Red Cross Hero of the Year.”


The police report paints a slightly different version. The detective who reviewed the CCT video writes:

“I did review the video and observed the suspect and victim walking westbound on North Ave. The victim is observed pointing toward the suspect. When they get to the corner of Bartlett and North Ave, the suspect grabs the victim by the neck and appears to cut her throat. The victim falls to the ground at which point the suspect is observed punching her multiple times in the face. The victim is seen holding her neck and standing in traffic as if to get the attention of passing motorists. Both the victim and the suspect were almost struck by a motorcycle and a car headed eastbound on E North. Ave.

The victim is clearly trying to get away from the suspect, but the suspect does run after the victim. As a vehicle is going westbound on North Ave, in for of 1700 E North Ave, the victim is able to flag down a car and gets into the back left rear passenger seat. I next observe a group of subjects tackle the suspect to the ground.”

The witness statements differ in some respects, but what’s consistent throughout is that Kinzinger’s girlfriend, Megan Alland, took the knife away from Thundercloud, not Kinzinger, and that while Kinzinger did tackle and pin Thundercloud to detain him for the police, two other men helped.

Kinzinger’s recount of the event has always been dramatic. Thundercloud had a vacant look “like he wasn’t even there.” In one respect, Thundercloud wasn’t there. He was in a midst of a psychotic event. Kinzinger said he tried to reason with Thundercloud to drop the knife but Thundercloud didn’t respond.


According to the witness statement of Benita Washington, Washington was driving on North Ave and stopped to help Lobermeir. Thundercloud was “jabbing” at Lobermeir. She and two passengers in her car were screaming for Lobermeir to get in the back seat. Lobermeir did. As Washington was driving away she saw a male citizen (Kinzinger) and a male who had been on a motorcycle “holding the suspect down.”

There is also no dispute based on the witness statements that Kinzinger didn’t disarm Thundercloud. Megan Alland did that. There is no dispute that the man on the motorcycle helped Kinzinger hold Thundercloud down as Alland disarmed him.

Thundercloud was arrested and charged with attempted homicide. He didn’t serve any time in prison because the court and experts determined that he wasn’t competent to stand trial. After a decade under mental health supervision, he was released.

Kinzinger was honored as a hero. He gave multiple interviews reliving that night. The highest award he’s received in the military wasn’t for anything he did in the military, his Airman’s Medal was awarded for what happened that night.  After August of 2007, Kinzinger was quickly tabbed as a rising political star – a hero – and was elected to Congress in no small part, because of what he did that night.  Kinzinger certainly hasn’t shied away from taking full credit. His congressional bio makes it clear he was the one who saved Lobermeir. But there were others who deserved credit and never got it.


Benita Washington stopped her car in traffic to help Lobermeir get away from Thundercloud. She then drove Lobermeir to the hospital.

Megan Alland took the knife from Thundercloud and threw it into the bushes.

Noah Henschel turned his motorcycle around when he saw that Lobermeir was in trouble. He helped immobilize Thundercloud and, according to him, helped Alland disarm Thundercloud.

The only person honored for heroism that night was Kinzinger.  And Kinzinger has made little effort to disabuse anyone of the notion that he alone saved Lobermeir and disarmed Thundercloud.

Since the January 6th Committee formed, Adam Kinzinger has attacked anyone questioning his motives and labeled everyone who doesn’t accept his conclusions as disloyal and unpatriotic. He attacked fellow service members, even lashing out at his former co-pilot.

He’s repeatedly offered up phony hero narratives about the war in Ukraine. He proudly tweeted the silly “Ghost of Kyiv” myth until he was told it was a myth. Then he deleted it.

He repeatedly pointed at his chest of medals, particularly his Airman Medal to shut down those who don’t sign onto his opinions and gravitas.


Adam Kinzinger will be out of Congress in January. He’s formed something called “Country First”. If Kinzinger seeks higher office, like the US Senate, maybe he can explain why he gladly took sole credit for saving Lobermeir when it seems to have been a team effort.

The 1962 film The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is a classic allegoric western. Jimmy Stewart plays Ransom Stoddard, an out-of-work lawyer who rises from a man washing dishes to a US Senator through one act of bravery. He shot and killed the territorial scourge, Liberty Valance.

When Stoddard tells a newspaperman that he, in fact, didn’t shoot Liberty Valance, the reporter closes his notepad, and the editor says:

“This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”


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