Four Des Plaines police officers honored for saving veteran from self-harm
When a troubled veteran attempted to take his own life earlier this year, four Des Plaines police officers quickly put themselves in harm's way to save the man.
Those actions earned officers Daniel Alonso, Ernest Durrell, Michael Schild and Anthony Tangorra Life Saving Awards from the city this month.
The officers were among several who responded to a call for assistance Jan. 14 at a home on the city's west side.
"From what I recall, there was a female caller who stated that her husband or significant other had made threats to his life and had a knife," Alonso said.
When someone is threatening to harm themselves with a knife, there's also a possibility that they're willing to harm others, as well, Alonso said.
Officers were relieved to see the woman and her young children were outside the home when they arrived, but they put them inside a squad car for added security.
The responding officers learned that the man, a military veteran, had locked himself behind a basement door. Carrying a protective shield, the officers found the basement door and attempted to communicate with the man. He didn't respond.
The officers made a judgment call of what to do in the next few seconds, Alonso said. Forcing the door and rushing in on an armed person in such a mental state isn't necessarily the best way to proceed, he added.
But then, Schild heard what sounded like gurgling from the other side of the locked door. The officers forced it open and hurried downstairs to find the man hanging from a rafter by an extension cord tied around his neck.
While other officers rushed over and held the man up, Schild cut the extension cord and removed it.
"Kudos to Schild for recognizing something that seemed a little unusual," Alonso said of the decision to enter the basement.
Though Alonso has not heard any updates about the man he and his colleagues rescued last winter, he hopes he can interpret that silence to mean the man has been receiving the help he needs.
"The officers' quick thinking and reactions to a dangerous situation resulted in saving the man's life. Their dedication and professionalism are a credit to themselves and the Des Plaines Police Department," a statement released by the department read.
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