BEACON, N.Y. -- Beacon native Ed Pietrowski was spared from Jorge Gonzalez's gun fire, as the just-released criminal hid in a Texas ditch waiting to gun down police he allegedly lured there.
Pietrowski, a former New York City Police officer, responded to shots fired, along with fellow former NYPD cops Michael Sarro and David Hofer, all working for Euless, TX police.
What happened next on that fateful March 1 afternoon changed the country's collective mood, and the lives of their loved ones forever.
Officers Hofer, Pietrowski and Sarro searched the park for the source of the gunshots, according to a department press release.
When Hofer noticed movement in the ditch and headed toward it, the suspect stood and fatally wounded him. Shots were immediately fired at nearby Sarro, and Pietrowski, hearing the shots, ran to the sound's direction. The two swiftly returned fire, killing the gunman.
“I was trying to process everything,” Sarro said. “What just happened? Was that real? I don’t hear Dave [Hofer], that’s not good, so I start returning fire.”
Sarro, who was just a few feet away from Hofer, started shooting back as he fought for cover. Pietrowski engaged with the suspect from 40 yards away trying to draw the gunman’s attention away from Sarro.
They were able to fire multiple shots, striking and killing the suspect.
“The biggest relief was when I saw [Pietrowski] running in to help me,” Sarro said. “If it wasn’t for him, I’d be dead too, I’m sure.”
Sarro and Pietrowski are now being honored as Officer of the Month Award for August 2016 by the The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
Due to their quick actions, no one else at the park, students from nearby schools or officers, were injured during the incident.
Pietrowski took a lesson from the ambush.
“I know I’d take a bullet for a guy I care about. As a great example of David Hofer, this loving guy would just show up and say ‘I’d take a bullet for you’ jokingly. But with him it was never a joke.”
Euless Police Department Assistant Chief Gary Landers said after the incident, both officers indicated the only thing they could think about as the events unfolded was how to get to, and save, their friend. “These officers were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, to lay down their lives for their brother and friend," Landers said.
Memorial Fund President and CEO Craig W. Floyd said Sarro and Pietrowski were able to rely on their training and focus on their job to keep the community safe by taking down the gunman, despite witnessing their colleague and friend get shot. “The bravery these men showed that day earns them our gratitude, as well as the August 2016 Officer of the Month Award,” Landers said.
Located in the nation’s capital, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund is a nonprofit organization dedicated to honoring the service and sacrifice of America’s law enforcement officers.
Officer of the Month Award recipients for 2016 will be honored during National Police Week at a special awards ceremony in Washington, DC, in May 2017.
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