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Two Beaufort Police officers awarded

By Amber Roberts
Published On: Jan 13 2014 11:29:32 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 14 2014 11:28:39 PM CST
BEAUFORT, CARTERET COUNTY -

Two Beaufort Police officers were awarded with the Medal of Valor on Monday night, for helping to prevent a real life Halloween horror scene from getting worse.

Authorities say Arthur Freeman Page Jr. arrived at his sister's home, Susan Zimmerman Salazar just after 10:20 p.m. on Halloween night. Authorities say Page had a shotgun and threatened to kill Salazar.

Salazar, who lives at 202 Rutledge Ave. in Beaufort, ran across the street to the home of her neighbor, McArthur Wright, for help. That's when Page shot and injured both of them.

Two Beaufort Police officers responded: Detective Eric J. Sassano, 29, and Officer Brian C. Willis, 26. Officers say when they got to the scene, they found Page inside Wright's home with a shotgun pointed at his sister's face.

"We saw him with a weapon, we had our weapons drawn, we gave him several commands when we got in there, saying put the gun down, put the gun down," Detective Sassano said.

When Page didn't, the officers said they were forced to shoot in order to save Sassano's life.

Now, two and a half months later, the community came together to show their appreciation of the two officers and what they did that Halloween night.

"They literally saved my life," said the gunman's sister, Salazar. "I'm happy to be invited here to celebrate their bravery."

Beaufort Police Chief, Steve Lewis, presented the awards on Monday night at the Beaufort Board of Commissioners meeting. Salazar helped put the medals around the officers neck.

Officer Willis says he will never forget what Salazar said to him as she put the medal on him.

"She said that we may not believe it, but we did earn it," Officer Willis said. "She said she is truly grateful for what we did, how we saved her life, and that means a lot coming from her."

The officers tell NewsChannel 12 this is the first officer-involved shooting they've been in. According to District Attorney Scott Thomas, Detective Sassano and Officer Willis were justified in shooting and killing Page.

The officers both began their career at the Beaufort Police Department; Sassano has worked there for 6-and-a-half years while Willis has been working there for 2 years.