Officer of the Month - September 2007
Special Agen Paul Buta
United States Secret Service
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) has announced the selection of Special Agent Paul Buta of the United States Secret Service as Officer of the Month for September 2007.
Great deals, summer blockbuster movies and socializing are all reasons people head to their local shopping mall on a Saturday night. The food court is typically the busiest spot within the mall, as mall-goers eat, rest, or gather before seeing a movie. Yet no one expected the food court of the Westfield Annapolis Mall, located in normally quiet Annapolis, MD, to turn from a friendly hangout to a scene of sheer terror.
On the evening of Saturday, November 18, 2006, Special Agent Paul Buta was shopping with his wife and two daughters at the Westfield Annapolis Mall. Special Agent Buta was preparing for a Secret Service assignment to South America. Shortly after the Buta family entered the mall, they were passed on both sides by a group of young men. The individuals were dressed in a similar style of clothing with hoods pulled over their heads.
As Special Agent Buta and his family entered the mall's food court, they observed the group begin to violently attack an individual. Special Agent Buta realized that this altercation had quickly escalated into a life-threatening situation. He instructed his wife to take his daughters to safety as he knew what had to be done.
Without regard for his own safety, Special Agent Buta went to the aid of the victim. He identified himself as a police officer as he approached the group in hopes of resolving the situation. As he encountered the group, he continued to give verbal commands and began to stop the offenders from continuing their attack.
It was at that time that Special Agent Buta observed one of the attackers make a furtive movement, followed by two gunshots. Special Agent Buta felt an intense burning from his left hip and realized that he had been shot. Special Agent Buta drew his service weapon and fired at the armed assailant, striking him with two rounds. Special Agent Buta continued to give verbal commands, controlled the offender, assessed his wound and requested that someone call 911 to report that a law enforcement officer had been shot.
Special Agent Buta, though seriously wounded, remained in control of the situation until he was relieved by two off-duty Maryland State Troopers and officers from the Anne Arundel County (MD) Police Department. Special Agent Buta's wife and children, along with hundreds of terrified shoppers, had witnessed the entire event unfold.
Special Agent Buta received medical assistance at the scene and was then transported to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where he underwent four hours of surgery to repair a broken femur. Due to the position of the bullet in relation to the bone, the bullet was left in place, and two metal rods were inserted for support. Special Agent Buta was up and walking the following day, and doctors credit his excellent physical conditioning for his rapid improvement. Since that time, he has made a full recovery and is currently assigned to the Secret Service's Special Operations Division.
Mark Sullivan, Director of the United States Secret Service, states, "Special Agent Buta selflessly and heroically came to the aid of a stranger. His actions are a credit to his training, professionalism and courage. Special Agent Buta's instincts and quick actions most certainly saved the lives of innocent people at the Annapolis Mall."
For his heroic actions, Special Agent Paul Buta was awarded the Valor Award from the United States Secret Service. He has also received the Silver Star and the Purple Heart from the Anne Arundel County Police Department. Special Agent Paul Buta is the first special agent from the United States Secret Service to be honored as Officer of the Month by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF).