MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Before being recognized Tuesday by the Wisconsin state Assembly for their own heroism responding to the fatal rampage at the Oak Creek Sikh temple last year, two police officers praised the response of average citizens following bombings at the Boston Marathon.
“A lot of people run away,” said Oak Creek Police Department officer Sam Lenda. “There’s very few that run toward it. Those are the people that are cut from a special cloth.”
Lenda and his fellow officer, Oak Creek Lt. Brian Murphy, were recognized as “hometown heroes” by the Assembly for their actions responding to the mass shooting at the temple in August that left six worshippers dead.
Murphy, the first officer on the scene, was shot 14 times by the lone gunman as he exited the temple. Lenda, who arrived shortly after Murphy, exchanged fire with the suspect before wounding him. The attacker then fatally shot himself.
Both Lenda and Murphy were asked about the marathon bombings during a news conference prior to their being honored in the Assembly. They praised the first responders and average citizens who sprang into action to assist the wounded.
“You never know what you’re running into,” Murphy said, speaking in a raspy whisper. His vocal cords were damaged by one of the bullets.
“They just realized there were people in trouble and you do what you’re paid to do, you do what you’re made to do,” Murphy said. “It shows once more what the American people are made of. When the chips are down, they collectively come together for the greater good.”
“People taking off their shirts, people taking off their belts, using them as tunicates,” Lenda said. “I think it just shows that the American people are special.”
Speaking to members of the Assembly after receiving the award, Murphy said he and Lenda were simply doing their jobs.
“What we did is the same that you do,” Murphy said. “It’s put yourself aside for the greater good.”
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