Officer Mario Gutierrez is honored for acting without regard for his personal safety in order to prevent a massive explosion and the potential loss of countless lives.
On October 29, 2013, Officer Gutierrez was on routine patrol in the area of a Shell gas station when he observed someone lifting the lid to the junction valve connecting two underground 8,000-gallon gasoline storage tanks. He saw the person start a fire that would have caused an explosion large enough to destroy the entire gas station and potentially kill everyone in the immediate vicinity.
Thinking decisively and without consideration for his own safety, Officer Gutierrez triggered the emergency shut-off valve and went after the suspect, who charged at Officer Gutierrez and stabbed him with a large knife. Officer Gutierrez wrested control of the knife, but the assailant produced a screwdriver which he used to continue his attack.
While Officer Gutierrez, now severely wounded, tried to draw his gun, the assailant bit his right thumb and nearly severed it. Fighting through the pain, Officer Gutierrez was finally able to shoot and kill the assailant.
Officer Gutierrez suffered stab wounds to his arms, hand, chest, stomach, and leg, and a vicious bite wound to his right thumb. He was taken to a trauma center where he was successfully treated for his injuries.