Colorado Springs honors people involved in shooting response - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

Colorado Springs honors people involved in shooting response

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It's a day our community will never forget. An armed gunman stormed the Planned Parenthood complex off Fillmore and Centennial in Colorado Springs, killing two innocent bystanders and one of the first responding officers.
Hundreds of other law enforcement officers, paramedics, and firefighters ran toward danger that day, putting their lives on the line to keep the rampage from getting any worse. Those brave men and women on the front lines for the hours-long siege were honored Tuesday by local and state leaders.

"Whoever was working, whoever heard the radio and was not working, showed up that day," Colorado Springs Chief of Police Peter Carey said. He says this kind of tragedy helps men and women in uniform learn from each other and come together not only as individual departments, but as law enforcement as a whole.

"You do get closer," Carey said. "You know that you can depend on the other officers, the EMS and medical folks, and it does make you better for the next one."

UCCS Police, Colorado Springs Police, Colorado Springs Fire Department and the El Paso County Sheriff's Office were all honored Tuesday by Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman. UCCS officers lost a brother in blue, Officer Garrett Swasey.

Coffman praised officers for taking the suspect alive.

"This is a remarkable situation in that so much restraint was shown by law enforcement on scene," Coffman said. "That moment when the suspect decided to surrender, he had the opportunity to do that."

Citizens at businesses in the plaza found themselves in the middle of the nightmare that unfolded that day, and many stepped up selflessly to help. Mayor John Suthers gave six Spirit of the Springs awards to citizens who risked their own lives to save others. 

One of them was off-duty charge nurse Michael Hagiwara, who was in the building next door at a doctor's appointment with his daughter.

"We had only been there perhaps ten minutes when a woman came in yelling that people are being killed," Hagiwara said. Hagiwara and a team of four others treated two gunshot victims in the lobby of the building, while bullets were still flying outside.

Dr. Derek Hurst, a family physician practicing at Centennial Family Practice, joined Hagiwara and stepped up to help victims. Medical assistants Bridget Holisky and Carmella Vega jumped into action as well. Kelley Hayes, an employee at Colorado Hand Center, helped calmed the patients while the group treated them.

"Frankly, I'm going to reject this title of hero," Hagiwara said. "I think it's completely unjustified. I felt like I was obliged to do something."

King Soopers Assistant Store Manager Cathy Stark also received the award, for keeping hundreds of customers safe and comfortable during the standoff.

"I think it epitomized the citizenry in Colorado Springs that is so resilient," Mayor Suthers said.

The five law enforcement officers injured during the shooting are on a long road to recovery, but doing better.

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