For the first time, the public was allowed to see the surveillance video captured inside the Discovery Building during the tense hostage standoff. It shows the gunman, James Lee, with metallic canisters strapped to his body holding his three victims hostage, as authorities quickly surround the building in Silver Spring, Md.
“It brought back a little memories of the crazy man,” said Montgomery County Police Officer Edward Paden Jr.
Paden, who was off duty at the time and responded to the scene in his running shirt and shorts, was the first officer to enter the building. For his role, making sure all the hostages got out alive, he was awarded the top honor at this year's Montgomery County Public Safety Awards.
But he doesn’t think he’s a hero.
“It’s a funny thing, I hear that word,” he said. “Just doing my job.”
Officer John Wilkes said he too was just doing his job on Sept. 1, 2010. His job was leading negotiations with the suspect.
“I just wanted him to realize that the people he had hostage really were just poor individuals caught up in the circumstance,” he said. “He told me repeatedly that he had no qualms about killing them.”
Wilkes was also honored Friday for his ability to keep the gunman calm. But after Lee made a sudden move, officers fired shots, killing him.
One day after the hostage situation, the FBI told Montgomery County police that it was the first time the country had seen a suicide bomber take hostages.
“Had it gone differently, it could have been their last day of going to work,” said Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Manger. “So it’s just an indication to me of what heroes we have.”
Manger credits the hard work and training of his officers to being able to get the job done.
In all, 37 emergency responders were honored at the Public Safety Valor Awards luncheon for their work that day, and because of their bravery, Discovery Communications had this message:
“God bless you,” said Discovery Communications spokesperson David Leavy. “Thank you so much for your heroism, your sacrifice. Thanks for being such a professional."