MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Miami-Dade Police Officer Mario Gutierrez’s condition continues to improve at Jackson Memorial Hospital less than 24 hours after he was stabbed multiple times with a screwdriver while trying to handle a bizarre situation at a gas station near Miami International Airport.
According to police, Officer Gutierrez, 54, is in good spirits. He’s alert and surrounded by his family and friends.
Doctors at Ryder Trauma said Wednesday afternoon they are “very satisfied with his progress and his recovery.”
Doctor Tanya Zakrison said Gutierrez has wounds to his legs, chest and his arms. It was the wound to his right arm that concerned them most because he was losing a lot of blood. That prompted doctors to rush the 21-year police veteran into surgery.
“He’s actually recovering very well. So the challenges are minimal. We’re looking at his motor and neurological status of his right arm and that seems to be in tact,” said Zakrison.
Now they have to keep an eye on the arm to make sure it doesn’t get infected.
Tuesday evening Miami-Dade Police Director J.D. Patterson said Officer Guttierez stopped the suspect from setting fire to the station and that may have saved some lives.
“He was trying to stop that person from setting fire and as a result there was no explosion,” said Patterson outside Jackson Memorial Hospital.
“This is an example of how officers are out there everyday going out and serving the community and how they put their lives on the line and how life can change in an instant,” he said.
Patterson said he was grateful that Gutierrez was able to defend himself.
“He used all the force that was necessary,” said Patterson, adding he may have prevented a tragedy from happening.
It was Tuesday evening when the officer was at the Shell gas station at 2501 NW 42nd Avenue.
The clerk said Officer Gutierrez has been stopping at the gas station for the past four or five years. He happened to be there when a man set fire to an underground gas tank.
Police have now identified him as 51-year old Dominique Jean who was arrested last year for aggravated assault with a knife.
Records show this was not Jean’s first run in with law enforcement.In December of 2012, he was arrested after a victim claimed Jean chased him and tried to stab him in the back with a knife. He was charged with aggravated assault with a knife.
According to the clerk, Jean grabbed a nozzle from a nearby gas pump and tried to pump gasoline into the hole.
“He walks over to the pump. He pours gasoline inside the hole to set them ablaze,” said the store clerk Manny Fidalgo to a translator.
Police Union President John Rivera also said Jean wanted to burn down the entire station.
Gutierrez hit an emergency shutoff valve to prevent any more gas from spilling and then walked up to the Jean who was still messing with the tank.
At some point, Gutierrez fired his electronic stun gun at the Jean, but it didn’t work, which is being investigated by police. Jean then allegedly cut Officer Gutierrez with a knife with at least a seven-inch blade.
The officer was able to get the knife away from him at which point Jean allegedly pulled a screwdriver and began stabbing the officer with it, according to police.
Police said Officer Gutierrez called for help on his radio and then grabbed his own gun and fired. Jean died on the scene, according to police.
It’s not known why Gutierrez’s taser did not work.
“He certainly feared for the lives of those people at the gas station and those working around the gas station,” said Rivera.
Fellow officers didn’t wait for rescue workers to get there and took the injured officer to the Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital via their patrol cars.
Law enforcement officers from agencies all across South Florida stopped by the hospital all night and all day Wednesday to check on their injured brother.
“That’s what we do. That’s who we are. We’re a family. His family needed us at a time that he has provided for the community,” Rivera said.
Surveillance cameras at the gas station reportedly recorded the entire incident but police have taken the video and the recording device into evidence.
Gutierrez remains at Jackson Memorial Hospital and his wife and stepson are by his side. The stepson is also a Miami-Dade Police officer.