MIAMI(CBS4) – Wounded Miami-Dade Police Officer Mario Gutierrez is back home after being savagely attacked by a man who set fire to a gas station and stabbed him several times on Tuesday night.
“I feel good but sore,” said a smiling 54-year-old Gutierrez as he was driven away from the Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital by a Miami-Dade Police Officer.
Gutierrez was released just before 5 p.m. on Friday after spending three days at the hospital and after a number of surgeries because of stab wounds to his hands and back.
Gutierrez, who has been with Miami-Dade Police for 21 years, left the Hospital in a wheelchair and his Laura was at his side.
As he left CBS4’s Peter D’Oench learned that $9,000 was raised for Gutierrez and his family for uncovered medical and other expenses through a car wash that was held all day next to the Miami-Dade Police Department.
Lt. John Jenkins Jr. of the Miami-Dade Police Department told D’Oench that officers at the car wash raised $4500. And that amount was being matched by the Miami-Dade Police Benevolent Association.
Jenkins said, “When one of our officers and brothers has fallen, It’s up to us to come out and get help from the community.”
At the car wash, Gutierrez’s friend and fellow motorcycle officer Chris Rutledge said of Gutierrez, “He was like a brother to me and that’s why I had to be here. I really was a bit disappointed myself that I couldn’t be with him at the time of the incident.”
“It could have been a lot worse,” he said. “With any less of a person, any less of a brother, we probably would have been looking at a funeral.”
D’Oench learned that surveillance tape at the gas station on Lejeune Road at Northwest 25th Street captured the incident and sources say it shows what a savage attack it was. That tape has not been released by police.
Also at the car wash in Doral was Holly Strine, whose 44-year-old sister, Miami-Dade Detective Amanda Haworth, was killed in the line of duty in January 2011 along with fellow detective Roger Castillo.
“It’s always important to support officers,” she said. “I lost my sister two years ago and it stays with you daily. These officers must get what they are due. They put their life on the line every day.”
“It’s a tragic reminder of how every day you never know when something can turn into a tragedy as it did for Mandy,” said.
Retired officer Jeri Mitchell, who is caring for Haworth’s two sons, said, “Regardless of whether an officer is wounded or killed in the line of duty, you have to support them. It is important to support the guy who is out there and puts his life on the line.” “People don’t realize how many dangerous people there are out there and how violent people can be,” she said.
Miami-Dade Police homicide detective Michelle Mullen said, “He’s a fellow officer and we always help officers in need.”
Another issue also surfaced.
The Miami-Dade Police Benevolent Association filed a complaint with the Miami-Dade police department on Friday after receiving dozens of complaints about defects in police radios such as incidents where radios did not “boot up” properly or where emergency buttons malfunctioned.
The complaints surfaced after P.B.A. President John Rivera learned there was a problem with Gutierrez’s radio when he initially tried to use it and could not call for help right away during the incident.
The P.B.A. said there would be a special meeting on Monday at a police communications building about this problem.
Rivera told D’Oench earlier in the week that this could become an issue that the union would have to look into.