SAN DIEGO—Ordinary citizens were honored for their extraordinary acts of heroism.
With only seconds to react, these citizens jumped into action and were honored Thursday by the Rotary Club of San Diego at the 19th Annual Law Enforcement Salute to Local Heroes Luncheon.
Christina Hennigan fought off a sexual predator, which was wanted for a string of attacks and robberies.
"Basically, I did not want him to get away," said Hennigan. "I did not want anybody to experience that again and I didn't want this to happen to anyone else."
She was in her garage when Thomas James Parker entered, closed the door and attempted to tie her up. But Hennigan fought back. Parker tried to run away, and Hennigan, a marathon runner literally ran him down. Parker was arrested. Although he never went to trial; Parker would a few days later kill himself. His arrest closed seven home-invasion sexual assault cases thought to be linked to him, some through direct DNA evidence.
"When you're talking about a hero, this is what it's all about," said San Diego Police Chief William Lansdowne. "And I want to commend Christina for the exceptional job she did for being a hero."
Along with Hennigan, Blake Stech, Eric Sturham and Julio M. were honored. Maurice Orange was also honored. He jumped into action when a man tried to steal a woman's purse. Only problem, Orange has 35 years martial arts experience and holds a 7 degree black belt in taekwondo.
"I'm really not a hero," said Orange. "I'm a middle-aged guy who saw a young man stealing a purse."
Lucky for the purse snatcher, Orange didn't hurt him. Instead Orange held onto him until police could arrive.
"We certainly appreciate the fact that he's a member of our community and make San Diego a safer place," said Lansdowne.