February 06, 2013 - When West Bloomfield Police needed someone to help deal with a cop-killer barricaded in a house, they knew who to call.
Al Doran accepts a Civilian Citation at the West Bloomfield PD ceremony with Supervisor Pat Kittle. Photo provided. (click for larger version)
Al Doran, Indepedence Township firefighter.
"It was a terrible situation, and we were just trying to end the standoff as peaceably as possible," explained Lt. Tim Diamond of the West Bloomfield Police Department. "He put his life in danger to assist us, and he did a great job. He's more than deserving."
"I was surprised to be recognized. I don't have a problem with sacrificing myself to help someone," Doran said.
West Bloomfield police awarded him a Civilian Citation, which he received at a ceremony on Jan. 28.
West Bloomfield's police officers, firefighters, dispatchers, and first responders also received recognition, but Doran was the only civilian among them.
"It's good to see there are dedicated individuals willing to put themselves in harm's way to protect the people of Southeast Michigan," said Independence Township Supervisor Pat Kittle, who attended the ceremony.
Doran, an Independence Township firefighter since 1989, was called to action on Sept. 9. He was not on duty – instead, he responded to the call as a civilian.
He was needed to help police reach a gunman who had barricaded himself inside a house for 20 hours after exchanging gunfire with law enforcement officers.
It wasn't the first time Doran's phone rang with a call for help in an intense situation because he isn't only trained as a firefighter.
His military training, demolition experience, his ability to recover people from holes and collapsed structures with the MAVIS rescue team, and his skill as a Heavy Rigger for Michigan Task Force 1 made Doran uniquely suited to help the West Bloomfield PD. From his point of view, "it was really another day at the office."
When he was told the West Bloomfield police needed to reach a barricaded gunman in the second story of a house, "he volunteered without hesitation," said Diamond.
Doran owns an excavating company and used his personal construction equipment for more than digging basements that September day.
Instead of a construction hard hat, he wore a police helmet and bulletproof vest.
Using his own 50,000-pound hydraulic excavator, a piece of construction equipment typically used for digging, Doran went to work.
The excavator's boom and stick has a 30-foot reach, and Doran used it to pull at the wall of the building without damaging its ceiling or floor.
Then, he placed the debris in the home's driveway. After about five hours, the second story had a gaping hole, and with a camera attached to a robot, the police could see the shooter inside was dead.
"At no time did I feel fear. I trust those guys," Doran said of the West Bloomfield PD, who lost one of their own during the tragic incident.
Officer Patrick O'Rourke was among the first officers to arrive on the scene, and he died as a result of a critical gunshot wound.
"He gave the ultimate sacrifice. He was the hero, not me," Doran stated.
For taking out the building's wall, the West Bloomfield police gave Doran a check for $2,100, which he signed over to O'Rourke's wife and four children.
Doran doesn't typically bill for such services, but "this time I knew the family could use the money," he said.
Clarkston News reporter