AUSTIN (KXAN) — Nearly two months after investigators tracked down the man who set off a series of package bombs outside Austin homes, the team at the center of the investigation is being honored.
The smiles and handshakes inside the Austin City Council chambers are a stark contrast to what we saw in March.
“When our community was at its worse because we were under attack, law enforcement was at its best,” said Interim Police Chief Brian Manley at the Thursday ceremony.
Officers from the Austin, Houston and San Antonio police departments, along with the Texas Department of Public Safety, were invited to City Hall to be honored for their work during the bombing spree that killed 39-year-old Anthony Stephan House and 17-year-old Draylen Mason, and injured three others.
The 3-week reign of terror only came to an end when the bomber blew himself up as the SWAT team closed in.
“It’s validation for the team. We put in hard work. Our end goal is to protect and keep people in the community safe,” said Sgt. Brannon Ellsworth, a member of APD’s SWAT team.
The officers are quick to tell you they don’t do their job for the recognition, but that’s exactly why Chief Manley called them to City Hall — for them and their families, who were home worrying during the whole ordeal.
We’re just lucky that we made it out safe…
“I told them I love them and we’re going to be safe and I got a bunch of guys around me and we’re going to be fine,” Sgt. Ellsworth said.
Ellsworth’s family, like so many others, were left at home while he literally worked around the clock trying to catch a man hell-bent on violence.
“We understand that that comes part of the job,” Sgt. Ellsworth’s wife, Thuy, said. “It’s a struggle sometimes but at the same time, it’s just something you have to go through and pray that he’s going to be safe, the team’s going to be safe and they can keep the community safe.”
And whether they want it or not, these officers and their families are being recognized for that.
“We’re just lucky that we made it out safe,” the sergeant said. “No officers were injured and we were able to stop the threat.”