MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A Miami-Dade Police officer, injured in the line of duty, was honored for his heroism Wednesday as he returned to work four months after risking his life to avert a potential disaster at a gas station near Miami International Airport.
Officer Mario Gutierrez received an MIA Hero Award plaque by the Miami-Dade Aviation Department.
Officer Gutierrez, who is a Miami-Dade Police Airport District Officer, was on routine patrol on October 29, 2013 when he stabbed several times and severely injured by a suspect who had set fire to a gas station.
During his patrol, Gutierrez stopped at a Shell Gas station on Lejeune Road and NW 25th Street. While there, he spotted a man tampering with the lid that accesses the station’s underground gasoline storage tanks. As he approached the man, identified as 51-year-old Dominque Jean, Officer Gutierrez realized the suspicious man had started a fire near the lid and was attempting to ignite the two 8,000-gallon tanks.
Gutierrez quickly activated the emergency shut-off valve to the fuel pumps. He then approached Jean to try and prevent him from continuing with the fire.
There was a confrontation which escalated into a violent struggle. Jean, police said, attacked Gutierrez with what sources said was a large knife.
Gutierrez was forced to shoot and kill Jean.
“My intent that night was to take him into custody, to take him to jail. It was just that simple. He was committing a crime and I was going to arrest him, but he took it to a different level and I was fighting for my life,” said Gutierrez.
Gutierrez was badly wounded and suffered stab wounds to his hands and back.
When asked how it felt to be back on the job, Gutierrez responded, “Awesome. I love my job. I love what I do.”
Gutierrez has been a Miami-Dade officer for 21 years. He has been a motorcycle officer for 7 of those years. He is five years away from retirement.
It’s believed Gutierrez’ swift actions may have prevented a deadly explosion at the gas station.
“I think Mario is the epitome of courageous and like officers who serve every day. He came to work that day expecting to do his job and didn’t expect the level of threat that he had but the reality is he responded to that threat and kept our community safe,” said Director J.D. Patterson of the Miami-Dade Police Department.