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Officer Mario Gutierrez

Miami-Dade Police Department, Florida

On October 29, 2013, Officer Mario Gutierrez, who is assigned to the Miami-Dade Airport District, was on routine patrol. Traveling just south of a Shell gas station in the area, he observed an individual tampering with the lid to the in-ground gasoline storage tank. As Officer Gutierrez entered the parking lot, he discovered the subject had lifted the lid to the junction valve that connects two 8,000 gallon gasoline storage tanks and started a fire on top of the valve system, attempting to cause a large explosion. The subject was also attempting to fuel the fire further by removing a fuel pump hose from the adjacent pump and placing it inside the open lid. Officer Gutierrez was faced with a life-threating decision of whether to retreat to a secure location or attempt to stop the actions of the perpetrator.

Understanding that an explosion would destroy the entire gas station and potentially kill everyone in the immediate vicinity, Officer Gutierrez disregarded his own safety and took measures to disrupt the subject’s actions. He first had the foresight to activate the emergency shut-off valve to the fuel pumps, rendering them inoperable. Officer Gutierrez then advanced on the subject and deployed his electronic control device, but it had no effect. The subject, who was squatting next to the fire, immediately turned his attention toward Officer Gutierrez and charged at him, producing a large knife that was concealed in his waistband. Officer Gutierrez attempted to move away from the knife-wielding assailant but was subsequently stabbed.

Throughout the entire assault, Officer Gutierrez remained focused, keeping the perpetrator in front of him as he fought to gain tactical advantage. At one point, Officer Gutierrez briefly gained control of the knife, but the subject regained control of the knife and also produced a second weapon, a screwdriver, as he continued to stab the officer.  

During the fight, Officer Gutierrez landed on the ground with the subject on top of him. Officer Gutierrez attempted to draw his firearm but was unable to do so because of a severe knife wound he had sustained. As Officer Gutierrez and the subject struggled over the firearm, the subject began biting Officer Gutierrez’s right thumb, nearly severing it. Officer Gutierrez refused to be overpowered and fought through the pain. Knowing his life was in jeopardy; Officer Gutierrez remained resolute, fighting and gaining control of his firearm. He was ultimately able to discharge his handgun, striking and killing the assailant.  

Officer Gutierrez sustained multiple stab wounds to his arms, hand, chest, stomach, and leg, along with a vicious bite wound to his right thumb. As severe as these injuries were, the danger to Officer Gutierrez’s life did not end with the demise of the subject. The life-threating injuries Officer Gutierrez sustained were compounded by the fact that he is on a prescription blood thinner, making the loss of blood even more critical. With the quick response of Airport District Motor Officer Juan Leon, Officer Gutierrez was transported in a police vehicle to the Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital where he received emergency medical treatment that stabilized and saved his life.  

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