Manley honors bomb squad and SWAT officers for courage during bombing crisis

Law enforcement filled the Austin City Council chambers Thursday morning as Interim Chief Brian Manley honored bomb squad and SWAT officers from multiple agencies -- both for individual acts of heroism and a collective sense of unity during the month-long bombing crisis.

"Between APD, the bomb squad, the DPS bomb squad, Houston, San Antonio, postal service.  So many people brought resources here to Austin to help us restore order to our community and to help us bring peace and a sense of safety again," Manley said.

"So the bomb squad got a meritorious unit citation with valor.  They ran well over 500 calls in a very short time period.  You know for the city we took over 2,000 calls of suspicious packages where we typically only take about 15 to 25 a month," said Assistant Chief Frank Dixon.  

Chief Manley recalled the final moments of the ordeal as officers closed in on bomber Mark Conditt.

"I've seen that video.  And I have no doubt that he waited until that very last second.  He waited until members of the SWAT team were at his door to detonate that device in an attempt to take police officers' lives as well," Manley said.   

"It speaks to their professionalism and commitment to put others before self, even before their families," Dixon said. 

Dixon is over the tactical units. He spoke highly of the men and women under his command.

"Not once through these 3 weeks did I hear any of these guys in this room or ladies complain about the long hours.  When guys were sleeping in their cars, when bomb squad guys were taking naps in their SUV's or in the back of the bomb truck," Dixon said.

Senior Police Officer Patrick O'Connor and his K-9 Murph were among the honorees.

"Nice to be recognized by your peers and members and society," O'Connor said.  

Even though O'Connor and the other officers being recognized couldn't talk the specifics of the ongoing investigation into the bombings we asked him what he was feeling through it all.

"Thinking of friends and family and making sure that everybody got home at night was my biggest thing.  Didn't want anybody to get hurt unnecessarily but things played out the way they played out.  The good guys won, the bad guys lost.  I guess that's the most important thing," O'Connor said.

Chief Manley also asked for a moment of silence to remember those in our community who lost their lives: Draylen Mason and Anthony House as well as those like 75-year-old Esperanza Herrera who will never be the same.