Officer Mario Gutierrez honored for risking life near airport

Gutierrez: 'I was fighting for my life'

MIAMI - A Miami-Dade police officer was honored Wednesday morning at Miami International Airport for risking his life to prevent a potential catastrophe.

Officer Mario Gutierrez was on routine patrol near the airport Oct. 29 when he spotted someone at a LeJeune Road gas station who started a fire near a lid that accesses underground storage tanks. That person was attempting to ignite the two 8,000-gallon tanks.

"My intent that night was to take him into custody and take him to jail," Gutierrez explained. "It's that simple. He was committing a crime, and I was going to arrest him. And then he took it to a different level. I was fighting for my life."

The confrontation escalated into a violent struggle that left the suspect dead and Gutierrez with his finger almost bitten off and suffering from multiple stab wounds.

"We never know from a community standpoint or the officer's perspective how things can unfold and get ugly real quick in this community," Miami-Dade Police Department Director J.D. Patterson said.

Gutierrez said he was taken aback by all the praise.

"I'm overwhelmed," he said "It's mind-boggling. I'm totally blown away by it. I'm not used to this at all. So, for me, I'm out of my comfort zone."

Copyright 2014 by Local10.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.