Boston Police Officer Scott W. O'Brien was awarded the Medal of Honor yesterday. (AP)
Hub's finest honor heroes: Officers braved gunfire in performance of duty
By Michele McPhee
Friday, October 7, 2005 - Updated: 11:31 AM EST
There is never a routine day in the life of a cop, but on the freezing morning of Jan. 16, 2004, the Boston police Entry and Apprehension Team was pushed to unnatural extremes.
The temperature was 3 below. The fugitive, Horatio Mays - a dangerous man with a history of fighting battles with bullets - was secreted in a house full of women and children. It took a snake-pole camera to find him cowering in an attic crawl space, shivering under a blanket.
It was a tense standoff from the start, but tensions were accelerated after Boston police officer Scott W. O'Brien climbed a ladder into the attic and was met with a burst of 9mm bullets that smashed into his face and right forearm.
``I remember the blood, and thinking, `I can't believe this happened,' '' O'Brien said yesterday after he received the Medal of Honor, the state's highest award for bravery, in a ceremony at the State House.
As O'Brien was rushed to the hospital for 10 hours of surgery, the stacatto burst of bullets in the attic of the West Street house in Quincy did not stop, BPD Superintendent Robert Dunford said. Neither did the threats from Mays that he would shoot them all, or the sporadic sprays of gunfire aimed at their heads, Dunford said.
``One of your own guys got shot, and not one member of the team returned fire,'' Dunford said, praising his unit's restraint.
Dunford and the men under him that morning were also recipients of a George L. Hanna Award, an annual honor named for a slain state trooper that recognizes extraordinary actions by police officers.
Capt. Tim Murray - the highest ranking Boston cop ever to get shot in the line of duty - also received the Medal of Honor. He and Sgt. John Ford tracked a home invasion suspect to a Dorchester address on Oct. 14, 2004, and got into a shootout in a cramped basement.
Murray was grazed by two bullets and Ford ran to his aid. Murray returned fire, and the suspect was apprehended.