St. Paul praises citizen heroes

  • Article by: CHAO XIONG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 22, 2011 - 9:47 PM

The city recognized Edwin Daniel and others for saving lives, helping those in distress and curbing crime.

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Edwin Daniel was given the St. Paul Police Chief’s Award Thursday for standing up to a group of young men who were harassing cashiers at an all-night convenience store in May 2010. Daniel, who ended up with serious injuries after being beaten, was given a standing ovation. He said: “I praise God that I’m still here.”

Photo: Marlin Levison, Star Tribune

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More than a year after five men viciously attacked him for defending convenience store clerks, Edwin Daniel's sense of taste is so damaged that one of his favorite foods, German chocolate cake, tastes like burned chili. He can't smell some odors, and painful headaches sometimes make work impossible.

But he's not one to dwell. Instead, the 40-year-old returned to work full-time as a shuttle driver at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in downtown St. Paul, is engaged and became the father of 5-month-old Edwin Jr.

St. Paul police recognized him at a ceremony Thursday for his actions in May 2010.

He stood up to a group of young men who were harassing cashiers at the SuperAmerica at Wall and E. 7th streets. The men beat him with a bat when he returned to the convenience store five days later.

"It's an honor," Daniel said of receiving the Chief's Award. "There's not a day that I don't think about [the attack]."

Daniel suffered serious injuries, including a fractured skull. Four suspects have been convicted. A fifth was charged this year.

"Mr. Daniel's simple act ... turned into a nightmare for him and his family," said Police Chief Thomas Smith. "He really did keep those clerks in that store safe."

"My mom or grandma always used to say, 'Never have a blind eye ... a dumb tongue or a deaf ear,' " Daniel said when he accepted his award to a standing ovation. "I praise God that I'm still here."

Other recipients of the Chief's Award:

Amy Brown, a city employee, was recognized for her key role in developing Blueprint for Safety, a new approach to combating and prosecuting domestic abuse. She also worked with the Flare-Up program, which deals with repeat and lethal offenders, and a program for Somali and Muslim youth.

Richard Dusterhoft, an assistant Ramsey County attorney, was recognized for coordinating a burglary ring investigation that resulted in the identification of 117 suspects.

James McKinley heard a smoke detector in his apartment complex on Dec. 30, 2010. He investigated its source and alerted neighbors. With the help of a caretaker, McKinley entered an apartment and put out the fire. No one answered when he called out, but authorities later discovered that a 3-year-old was locked in a bedroom alone.

Ali Parranto and John Cole were recognized for following a suspect who broke into a vehicle and then fled. They called 911 and tracked the suspect's whereabouts. The suspect was later arrested, and found to have an extensive record and was linked to a crime spree, Smith said.

Recipients of the Chief's Award for Merit were:

Ryan Johnson, 26, helped a neighbor who was struggling with an armed intruder. Johnson, who served 17 months in Iraq with the National Guard, was shaving in his Dayton's Bluff home on June 10 when he heard a gunshot. He ran outside where he saw his neighbor struggling with one of three suspects.

"I really didn't think; I just acted," Johnson said. "It doesn't seem like something you should get an award for. I didn't fight a war so I could come home and have punk-[expletive] teenagers take over my neighborhood."

Samantha Poppy and Zachary Estes were honored for holding onto a woman who tried to jump off the Wabasha Street bridge on April 3, 2011. The two were walking across the bridge about 10:30 p.m. after dinner when they spotted the woman on the wrong side of the railing. They grabbed her and called 911.

"I just thought that I had to save her and not let her fall," said Estes, 18. "It was scary. She just kept saying, 'Let me fall, let me fall.'"

It took a handful of officers and paramedics to help pull the woman to safety.

Chao Xiong • 612-270-4708 Twitter: @ChaoStrib

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