Police & Fire

Morris County Detective Awarded for Keeping Terror Suspect Alive

Detective Michael Puskas Credits: Morris County Prosecutor's Office
Detective Michael Puskas receiving the Life Saving Award from an ATF official Credits: Morris County Prosecutor's Office

MORRISTOWN, N.J. - While employed by the federal government, a law enforcement officer who now serves as a detective with the Morris County Prosecutor's Office risked his own life to save the life of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, one of the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing. 

By keeping the bleeding suspect alive, Michael Puskas - who was at the time working with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) - helped law enforcement investigate the crime, said authorities. 

The survival of Tsarnaev "enabled investigators to ultimately obtain significant information regarding details leading up to the attack," said Morris County Prosecutor Fredric Knapp this week in announcing that Puskas was awarded by the federal government for his actions that day in 2013. 

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The Life Saving Award was announced at the ATF’s annual  awards ceremony in August and Puskas received the award Sept. 29, at the ATF’s Woodland Park field office. 

Puskas, then a special agent with the ATF and serving as a tactical medic in the Special Operations Division, was on the scene when police found Tsarnaev hiding inside a boat several days after the deadly explosion in Boston, said Knapp. 

"The suspect was subsequently removed from the boat by law enforcement personnel when Special Agent Michael Puskas and his partner, not knowing if the suspect was personally armed with an explosive device, administered life-saving first aid," said the prosecutor. "The suspect was then transported to the hospital, where he survived his injuries. His survival enabled investigators to ultimately obtain significant information regarding details leading up to the attack." 

Knapp praised Puskas, noting the detective “disregarded his own safety to render life-saving aid,” actions that "allowed authorities to discover the motives behind this despicable terrorist act and to successfully prosecute Tsarnaev." The prosecutor said he is "proud to serve with Mike Puskas.”

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