Four Los Angeles police officers are being hailed as heroes for the determination they showed while rescuing a man who was unconscious and trapped inside a burning Sylmar house.
Officers Luis Lopez, Kenneth Morales, Jose Moya and Christina Shente sprung into action on Tuesday night when they spotted the house fire in the 13600 block of Brussels Avenue. A neighbor told them 62-year-old Mitchell Shulman, who lives there alone, was trapped inside.
At a news conference on Wednesday afternoon, the LAPD officers were recognized for their heroism.
"All four officers went inside and literally picked him up, he was completely unconscious, and carried him outside," LAPD Capt. Peter Kasey of the Mission Division said.
The officers said they were on the way back from a call when they saw the smoke coming from the house. The officers used a neighbor's hose to pour some water on the house, which helped them get a better look inside to locate Shulman.
They used their batons to break a sliding glass door and repeatedly went inside the burning, smoke-filled house until they were able to get the man out.
Morales described the conditions inside the house as "pretty harsh," saying it was difficult to breathe and described the house as being "cluttered" with a lot of furniture packed inside.
But, he said they never questioned if they should go inside.
"As a cop this is what I signed up for and talking to the other officers here it feels like second nature to us," Morales said. "I think anybody else would go inside when they hear someone moaning or someone in trouble."
The officers said they were surprised the man was alive because of the amount of smoke gushing out of the doorway.
"We knew we were the only ones there to help him at that moment so that's what kept us going back in the house," Lopez explained.
The four officers were treated for smoke inhalation at a hospital and were later released.
"After watching body-worn video it was truly an impressive act of heroism by all four officers," Kasey added. "They automatically were communicating among each other and without any hesitation whatsoever never questioned whether or not they were going in."
The officers' actions were also hailed by Shulman's longtime friend Robert Wood.
"They are so wonderful," he said.
Shulman was on a respirator Wednesday night as was sedated, Wood said.
"We look forward to him being able to breathe on his own and come back to us," he told KTLA.
According to Wood, Shulman graduated from UCLA and was substitute history teacher who worked in the L.A. Unified School District.