Hero officer in Pulse shooting to be terminated from force
A Florida police officer left with post-traumatic stress disorder in wake of his heroic response to the Pulse nightclub massacre is being let go from the Eatonville Police Department just a few months ahead of becoming vested in his pension.
Omar Delgado, a 45-year-old corporal with the force, was one of the first responders to arrive at the Orlando club where a gunman killed 49 people and injured dozens more. It’s the second deadliest shooting in United States history after this year’s massacre at a Las Vegas country music festival.
Eatonville Police Officer Omar Delgado.
(Dear World/Daymon Gardner/TNS)
The officer was hailed as a hero for pulling Angel Colon, a 26-year-old Orlando man wounded three times during the attack, to safety.
Delgado told the Orlando Sentinel he returned to patrol duty following the violent incident but could not continue on the job. A doctor found him unfit to return because of post-traumatic stress disorder — which he suspects is a factor in his dismissal.
He said he still feels anxiety over going to places with “too many people,” like bars and restaurants.
Delgado instead worked a desk job for the last eight months — answering phones and doing other administrative tasks — but the Town Council Tuesday voted unanimously to dismiss him. His last day with the department will be Dec. 31, 2017, according to the newspaper.
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If Delgado had been allowed to work another six months, he would have become vested in the pension system — that would allow for him to collect 64% of his $38,500 annual salary with benefits for life, Town Clerk Cathy Williams told the Sentinel.
“I don’t need to be a police officer with my gun belt and so forth to do those little tasks,” he said ahead the decision. “Could they have let me do that for six more months? That’s the debate.”
Chief Administration Officer Roger Dixon would not provide details on the decision but said “facts” had caused him “as an administrator to be concerned for the health and safety of the citizens passing through town.”
Delgado, who was reunited with Colon following the shooting, recalled how it felt to save a life him in an interview with Anderson Cooper after the attack.
“It was a feeling you can’t describe, you can’t put into words knowing that you helped save someone,” he said. “People try to save people all the time, but in that certain situation, it was unreal.
“He grabbed me and hugged me, he hugged me like four or five times and just thanked me. I can’t even tell you how many times he thanked me.”