Officer Edward E. Paden Jr. (2nd from left) accepts the Congressional Badge of Bravery from (left to right) County Executive Ike Leggett, Sen. Ben Cardin, Rep. Cris Van Hollen.
The United States Congress has awarded a Montgomery County police officer for his bravery during the Discovery building hostage crisis last year.
On an otherwise quiet afternoon in September 2010, a suicide bomber walked into the Discovery Communications building in downtown Silver Spring, took three hostages, and terrorized dozens of others for hours. Officer Edward Paden was off-duty that afternoon, but he heard the call and entered the building to observe and transmit vital information to police in the area.
"As a result of that bravery, he prevented the suicide bomber from being able to penetrate the building and cause devastation," says Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md).
Cardin, along with Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), awarded Paden the Congressional Badge of Bravery Jan. 9. Created in 2008, the award honors local, state, and federal law enforcement officers who have displayed exceptional acts of bravery in the line of duty.
Paden is quite modest about his actions that day, but did describe what he was able to do as he sat hidden from the bomber.
"Where he was positioned," says Paden. "What apparatus he was carrying, how it was designed. So for me to be able to relay that information to them while they were still en route, that was vital information."
The situation was extremely tense, he says. Because he was carrying a service weapon -- a rifle -- some witnesses mistakenly identified him as a second gunman. Paden says his training helped set things straight.
"...When we all set up, just like I was trained when you're coming into a situation when you're off-duty to identify yourself over the air, which I did," Paden says. "I described myself from head to toe, and we went from there."
Ingrid Romer, Officer Paden's adoptive mother, was watching the hostage crisis on local TV news when something caught her eye. "... And I was like ... I hope he's not down there, and then I saw this figure coming up the streets with shorts on and I said, 'Oh my God, that's probably Ed,'" Romer says. "I tried to call him and he's not answering the phone, so I know he's there right in the midst of everything."
Paden recalls the many messages he received that day. "She definitely mentioned that afterwards," he says of Romer. "I looked at my phone that evening and saw there were a lot of text messages, and voice mails, so I made some calls to let everyone know I was A-OK."
Paden's efforts helped swat teams find and kill the bomber, and all three hostages were rescued safely. Paden is one of 20 officers in the U.S. to receive the Congressional Badge of Bravery.