The news of the shooting at a Sikh temple yesterday sent me into a gloom. As I watched for emerging details, I could feel my hope in humanity draining. Again, so soon? What is wrong with us? Why does this keep happening? But one story has surfaced that revives my hope in humanity: Lieutenant Brian Murphy, the police officer who met gunman Wade Page outside the temple, put the victims first.
Murphy arrived at the scene and ran to a victim who had fallen to the ground. Gunman Page immediately ambushed Murphy, shooting him eight or nine times, including in the neck (Murphy was wearing a bullet-proof vest). Once they shot down Page, officers tried to assist Murphy. But Murphy waved the rescuers off and urged them to rescue the victims inside.
His actions are no surprise at all, say the people who know him best.
The 51-year-old native New Yorker (so proud!) has a record of highly distinguished, decorated service. He received a commendation for his work on a 2004 investigation into fallen electrical towers, a case of sabotage. Former Oak Creek Police Chief Thomas Bauer says of Murphy, "He is that guy." Murphy was one of three finalists for the job of police chief after Bauer retired. And Bauer says he was more than qualified for the position.
United States Attorney James Santelle says of Murphy, "Know that that kind of dedicated law enforcement is not atypical ... this is what we expect from law enforcement in this country, and that’s what this nation gets." The Sikh Human Rights Group has pledged $10,000 as thanks to the officer.
On the Oak Creek Patch Facebook page, resident Michael Williams describes Murphy as "a very dedicated officer and family man." He adds, "Me and my family have spent many days with his family. There is so much more great things about this great brave man, and doesn't surprise me that he put the other victims in front of himself."
Bravery describes Murphy's actions -- but he has compassion, too. Putting other people first is a nurturing thing to do. And it's beautiful that this was Murphy's first impulse. I'm always impressed by people who are both steely tough and kind-hearted. Of course you could say he was just doing his duty, doing what any officer would do in his place. But I still think that in the middle of the bad news, we need to recognize the self-sacrificing heroes. We need more people like that.
Have you known people like Lt. Brian Murphy?
Image via Oak Creek Patch Facebook