WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA9) -- For the first time, we are hearing a detailed account from the the injured D.C. police officer who took out the Navy Yard shooter nine months ago.
Officer Dorian DeSantis did not even realize until days later that Aaron Alexis had shot him in the chest right where an armor plate protected his heart.
"He's a hero," said Police Chief Cathy Lanier as the Washington Police Foundation named DeSantis, "Officer of the Year."
The guys who rushed in to stop the Navy Yard killer are remarkably shy. Officer Stephen Giannini joked that he is more afraid of a TV camera than a gunman.
But after four tries, we finally convinced Dorian DeSantis to talk to us about the moment he killed Aaron Alexis.
He said, "We did encounter him in one of the cubes."
We asked, "And he opened fire on you?"
"Correct," he said.
DeSantis took a round in his bullet resistant vest, returned fire and then returned to searching for a second gunman. "You didn't realize you'd been shot?" we asked. "I'm a little slow," he said with a smile. "As long as you're not leaking... I still had work to do."
Days later, DeSantis checked his vest again. "Sure enough, there was a round in the plate. I was very fortunate."
All the officers we talked to left out one detail. The first thing they saw when they rushed in was the body of murdered security officer Richard "Mike" Ridgell. And what they heard first was the sound of gunfire echoing through the open atrium, as though it was all around them. But still they pressed on.
"Aaron Alexis could literally have hid in that building for days," says Chief Lanier.
The Foundation honored the officers who ended the massacre in one hour and nine minutes.
"To go inside a building and search for an individual whose main mission is to kill individuals and then you have to search for him. That makes the hair on your neck stand up," said Officer Vernon Dallas, who was in the first team to enter the building.
And it is way scarier than a TV camera.
The winners of the Washington Police Foundation Awards get a $500 check, a plaque, a lunch, and a barbecue dinner at a yard of their choosing.