Henry Smith had only been married for two days when he was robbed at gunpoint. Smith worked as a security guard a North Park marijuana dispensary in 2014 when two armed men came in, took his security belt with his gun and pushed him into the back room with the store’s owner. When the robbers left the room Smith was able to retrieve his gun and fatally shot one of the men when they returned. He took a bullet from the other suspect who was later arrested.
“I was thinking about my wife,” Smith tells NBC 7. “We had just got married a couple days before. On April 18th, and she was pregnant at the time too. So I mean, I was just trying to survive, anything to survive.”
Friday, Smith was honored by District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis along with six other people at the annual Citizens of Courage Luncheon at the Hilton Bayfront in downtown.
Aaron Bianco, a lay pastoral associate, was at his church in October when a man came in threatening his life with a pair of scissors. Bianco managed to text a police officer friend for help while keeping the man clam before waiting for the right moment to run away.
“I was scared to death the whole time,” he admits. Bianco’s quick thinking and calmness in the face of danger likely saved his life and two others at the church that day.
Honoree Debbie Reynolds caught a predator hiding in her daughter’s bedroom. Reynolds caused so much of a commotion that the man jumped from their second story balcony to try to get away. He cut himself and police later used his DNA to catch him.
“I'm very thankful that they've chosen me,” she says, “but for me, as I said, it was very much about surviving. I wanted to go home to my family that night.”
That sentiment of surviving and not ‘being a hero’ was echoed by most of the honorees – but at least for one day maybe even these humble people might have to admit their actions were heroic.
The Citizens of Courage event is now in its 27th year.