Police nationwide honor Texas boy who saved mom during Walmart shooting
Officers recognized nine-year-old Eduardo Mier for his 'heroism and resiliency'
El Paso Times
EL PASO, Texas — As the horror unfolding Aug. 3 in El Paso was broadcast around the world, a police officer in Boston switched over to coverage on Telemundo and was moved by the story of one 9-year-old boy.
There was Eduardo Mier on the screen, "upset and shaken," Lt. Clara Molina said. The boy had saved the life of his mother, Ana Vitela, when she froze in fear during the gunman's attack. Eduardo yanked his mother's arm, pulling her to safety.
"Mamá, run because they're shooting!" Eduardo recalled saying during the broadcast.
"I thought he would do something to us," he said on Telemundo. "But God told me to pull my mom, that nothing would happen to us and he would be with us."
Molina — a 26-year veteran of the University of Massachusetts at Boston Police Department who has a grandchild about Eduardo's age — remembers hearing him say, "I want to be a police officer so I can save lives."
"Immediately, I knew I needed to do something," she said. "To say, 'We are proud of your actions. We are so sorry that at your age you had to experience something like that.' "
Molina wrote an emotional letter and shared it with colleagues and on social media.
"Unable to process the immediate threat to her and Eduardo’s lives, Ana, paralyzed with fear, could not flee for safety," Molina wrote. "Eduardo quickly recognized his mother’s condition and knew he had to act. Without fear and disregarding his own safety, Eduardo took immediate action."
Molina continued in the letter, "When I heard about the bravery and selflessness of this beautiful, 9-year-old boy, I could not help but think, what can I do … what can the law enforcement community do to honor Eduardo’s heroism and resiliency; how can the law enforcement community show support to this young vibrant hero?"
She put out a call for department memorabilia.
Patches started pouring in, first from departments in the Boston area, then Massachusetts, then from all over — Wisconsin, Kentucky, Florida. Some 50 police departments and sheriff's offices responded with T-shirts, commemorative coins, caps, stickers and other memorabilia.
The university Police Department chipped in for an iPad, embossed with Eduardo's name on the back. With Vitela's permission, two officers flew to El Paso with a suitcase full of gifts and rode over to Vitela and Eduardo's home in a caravan of El Paso police units.
El Paso Police Department Officer Alex Dominguez accompanied the Boston officers.
"Being so heroic in such a dire time shows me that when some would respond with either fight, flight or freeze, he innately had the perfect police response and saved his mother’s life," Dominguez said. "His desire to save more lives and become a cop is very noble."
Eduardo — now 10 years old —got to sit in a police car, flash the lights and talk into the radio.
"I felt so happy," he said, rummaging through the suitcase of memorabilia on a recent evening at his home.
There were frijoles on the stove and an artificial Christmas tree in a corner. The family Pomeranian had just given birth to four pups days before. Life was moving on.
Mother and son are both still dealing with the fallout — anxiety, nightmares.
"We don’t talk about it anymore," Vitela said.
But Molina calls every Friday to check on her and catch up. And Eduardo holds on to the dream he has had since he was a boy.
Only now he thinks he might want to work for the police force in Boston.
"If he wants to be a police officer," Molina said, "we’re going to be there supporting him."
- Police Heroes