Tempe firefighter and Tucson police officer named ‘heroes of the year’

PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — A police officer and firefighter were honored on Saturday evening for their work and dedication to the community. Tempe firefighter Jason Dean was named Firefighter of the Year, and Tucson officer Danny Leon was named Police Officer of the Year at the 2022 Boots and Badges Gala.

While off-duty, Dean jumped into action to save three men when the Platnium Printing building exploded in Chandler last August. Dean heard the explosion and ran over to save the men who were severely burned. Dean’s quick actions saved the men and prevented others from getting severe injuries. “Firefighter Dean did a great service to those in need, and his outstanding contribution helped in keeping the public safe,” officials said. Now, Dean says he is accepting the award on behalf of everyone in the parking lot that day.

“I learned on that day that, you know, heroes don’t necessarily wear capes, ride in red firetrucks, wear navy blue shirts, or put on a bulletproof vest and ride in a black and white police car. They’re standing in front of you at Starbucks. They’re sitting behind you in traffic, or they’re sitting across the parking lot from your business having breakfast,” said Dean.

Officer Leon of the Tucson Police Department was also honored at the event. Officials say Leon played an essential role during a shooting call last July. Leon says that a shooting call came out 15 minutes before his shift ended. “I knew by the sound of it I had to get out; I had to help. I had to get there right away,” said Leon.

Police say 35-year-old Leslie Scarlett began shooting neighbors and firefighters who were responding to a house fire. The shooting spree spanned across multiple scenes with several victims, including injured first responders. Five people lost their lives in the shooting, including 20-year-old EMT Jacob Dindinger.

Leon helped firefighters and was caught in the crossfire from the shooting. “His courage and bravery were extraordinary and may have prevented a mass shooter from further ending the public,” officials said.

“I think no matter what, I’m always going to be proud. Right now, I’m exactly where I want to be. I’m doing exactly what I want to do, and I’m making a huge difference. I’m just happy that I’m going to be able to keep doing it,” said Leon.

The event was hosted by the 100 Club of Arizona, a nonprofit organization supporting officers and firefighters, recognizing first responder heroes from all over Arizona. Last year, Arizona had more than 60 first responders killed in the line of duty. Leon and Dean were nominated and voted on by peers.

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