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."