By Garrett Cabeza
The Spokesman’s Review, Spokane, Wash.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Two Spokane police officers who authorities say were targeted by gang members in a shooting earlier this summer won the El Katif Shriners Officer of the Year award on Saturday, a ceremony that honors local law enforcement and remembers the lives lost on 9/11.

“Officers (Kris) Honaker and (Michele) Kernkamp were targeted simply because they were police officers,” said Shriners High Priest and Prophet Michael Castelan. “It makes this incident even more heinous and is why we are honoring them today with the Shriners Officer of the Year award.”

Honaker was shot in the leg and one bullet grazed his scalp during the drive-by shooting. He was treated and discharged from a local hospital a day after being injured.

Isaac Ott, 21, and Ray Wynecoop, 22, are charged with shooting at two homes in northeast Spokane on June 28.

Spokane Police Chief Craig Meidl said Kernkamp was one of the first officers to respond to the area when she noticed the suspects filming her from a vehicle. The pair then chased her in a 2014 Chrysler 300, according to court documents.

Meidl said Honaker was the first officer who was able to approach Kernkamp’s vehicle when shots were fired from the suspects’ vehicle.

Seven shots were fired in less than two seconds, documents show. Meidl said Honaker turned his head at the last second to avoid the gunfire.

“If he hadn’t done that instinctively, he probably wouldn’t be here with us today,” Meidl said.

[RELATED: Men accused of shooting cop planned, filmed ‘assassination attempt’]

Castelan said the injured Honaker and Kernkamp were still passing on information that led to the capture of Ott and Wynecoop, who are both being held in Spokane County Jail on $2 million bail.

“The officers showed extreme calm in the most difficult of circumstances,” Castelan said.

Meidl said the two officers returned to work shortly after the shooting, although he urged not to return soon.

“It’s just a calling,” Kernkamp said of his eager return to duty. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I love it. There’s no better place I want to be right now than working for the Spokane Police Department.”

Honaker said he recovered quickly physically but was still struggling.

“My first week back was tough,” Honaker said. “I didn’t sleep very well.”

He said taking care of himself and receiving support from fellow officers, friends, family and the community helped him get back to work.

Other area first responders also won Shriners awards on Saturday as the Shriners held their second annual law enforcement appreciation and 9/11 commemoration event in the parking lot of the El Katif Shrine Center near Spokane International Airport.

“These guys do a hell of a job and we want to make sure they know they’re appreciated here,” said Castelan.

Various law enforcement, fire and emergency medical service personnel and their vehicles were on hand for the event.

Many people have examined the names and faces of the 608 law enforcement officers who died last year across the country. The fallen officers were on the Beyond the Call of Duty trailer which travels across the country every summer to support the families of fallen officers and law enforcement.

The Shriners held a short 9/11 memorial ceremony.

“I hope today can be a remembrance of those who fell, those who served and those like you who still stand guard and protect our communities and freedoms,” said Justin Hughes, potentate of the Shriners.

Wreaths were placed above a firefighter uniform, police uniform and EMS uniform.

Luanne Gehrig placed a green wreath above her husband’s blue Spokane police uniform. She said Roger Gehrig, a 26-year veteran of the department and former Shriner, died last year of cancer.

“Last year I did it and I think I was still numb to lose it,” Gehrig said of the wreath laying. “This year has been quite emotional, especially when they started playing Amazing Grace.”

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