On September 1, Ed Paden, a father, triathlete and, at the time, off-duty Montgomery County police officer, heard about a man with a bomb and hostages at Discovery headquarters.
So alone, in shorts and a T-shirt – with no protection from gunfire or an explosion – he entered the complex. Once inside, he found a control room and began watching the suspected bomber, a militant environmentalist named James Lee, on security cameras. He broadcast Lee’s whereabouts and activities to the department.
For his bravery, Paden received the department’s top honor on Wednesday – the Medal of Valor. More than 160 officers in total took home awards during this year’s award ceremony.
"Things could've gone wrong. Everything went right in our corner,” Paden said. “A lot of us would've lost our lives if that device went off that day.”
During the incident, authorities said Lee took several people hostage. He had a weapon and was wearing what appeared to be explosives on his body. He was angry about the programming at the channel.
The situation ended with police shooting and killing Lee.
More than honors, however, officers said they’re grateful that the three hostages – and their law enforcement brothers and sisters – lived to tell the tale.
“I think the hardest part for me was just knowing that not only were the hostages in harm’s way but also members of my division as well,” said Captain Darryl McSwain, Discovery incident commander. “They're all human beings, anyone will tell you that we're like a family.”