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Pueblo County janitorial crew honored for heroic act outside cou - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

Pueblo County janitorial crew honored for heroic act outside courthouse

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PUEBLO -

On Wednesday evening, it was business as usual for Ben Lucero and Sam Romero at the Pueblo County courthouse.

Romero is Night Maintenance Supervisor at the courthouse, and Lucero works as a Facilities Technician.

This was their second time at the courthouse that day, though.

Not even eight hours earlier, the pair of county workers was recognized for their heroic acts just outside the courthouse late last month.

"It was the last thing on my mind for the day," recalled Lucero.

While doing a routine sweep of the building and premises, Lucero and Romero spotted a small amount of smoke near the west entrance of the building.

"When you work here 23 years, you notice stuff when it's not right," Romero explained.

As they moved closer, they quickly realized the smoke was coming from a car, where someone had deliberately shoved a rag into a gas tank, and then lit it on fire.

So the two of them sprang into action immediately.

"I just smacked the rag with my hand a few times to put out the flame and just put it out," Lucero told News5.

It's a modest way to describe what happened, considering the car could have exploded at at time when many of the courthouse staff head home for the day.

"I stopped a lot of the employees here," said Romero, pointing to the west entrance--which is commonly used by staff.

"Exactly where that car is parked is where the car was on fire," he said, pointing at a parking spot about 100 feet from the West entrance.

They continued to guard the area until emergency vehicles showed up, even stopping a woman and her two children, who otherwise would have walked right past the car.

"When you're talking about fight or flight, that's a pretty typical response is for people to see something like that and run," said Pueblo County Undersheriff J.R. Hall.  

"But these courageous men--they didn't run [away], they ran to it.  And they pulled the rag out and really prevented a major catastrophe," he added.

Once the two men got a witness description of the suspect on scene, the told authorities they believed he had been inside the courthouse shortly before trying to set the car on fire.

From there, the Pueblo County Sheriff's Office was able to release surveillance photos of 30-year-old Seth Land, who turned himself in shortly after that--on September 28th.

He now faces second degree arson, a felony.

As for Lucero and Romero--their heroic acts may not specifically be in their job descriptions, but they say it was simply the right thing to do.

"I don't think of myself as a hero.  I think of myself as 'that's my job and I was doing what I could,'" said Romero.

"People went home to their families and that's all that matters," Romero concluded.

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