Medal of Valor recipient gets hero's welcome at Miami International Airport

'I just did my job,' Officer Mario Gutierrez says

MIAMI – A hero's welcome, complete with a water cannon salute, greeted Miami-Dade police Officer Mario Gutierrez at Miami International Airport as he returned home Thursday after being awarded with the Medal of Valor by President Barack Obama.  

"I just did my job," Gutierrez said. "That was it."

Gutierrez is one of 13 officers from across the country who received the public safety award Monday. North Miami police Officer Niel Johnson was also recognized, and Local 10 News traveled to the White House for the ceremony.

"The public safety officers we recognize today with the Medal of Valor found courage not in search of recognition," Obama said at the ceremony. "They did it instinctively."

Gutierrez said his indicts kicked in during a routine motorcycle patrol near Miami in 2013 when he saw Dominique Jean trying to set off an explosion in underground fuel tanks at a gas station near the airport.

That's when Gutierrez shut off the pumps and rushed toward Jean, who stabbed the officer several times before Gutierrez shot and killed him.

Officer Juan Leon, who is Gutierrez's partner, took Gutierrez to the hospital after the attack and still recalls that night.

"It was an extremely crazy night," Leon said. "I'm just very proud of him and blessed that he's here with us."

Gutierrez has scars from the fatal fight.

"He was at the right place at the right time and took action, despite whatever risk he took to his own self," Officer Freddy Ramirez, assistant director of the Miami-Dade Police Department, said. 

"I wouldn't have changed a thing,"  Gutierrez said. "I would have done exactly the same thing."

About the Author:

Amy Viteri is an Emmy Award-winning journalist who joined Local 10 News in September 2015. She's currently an investigative reporter and enjoys uncovering issues facing South Florida communities. A native of the Washington, D.C., area, she's happy to be back in South Florida, where she earned a masters degree at the University of Miami.