Just two weeks into his new job, Socorro Police Department Officer Joshua Gonzalez helped save a family from a burning home.
“I just ran in without thinking,” Gonzalez said. “I attempted to break a window, but I was unsuccessful. At this point, I didn’t even think about it. I was advised that there was only one entrance to that residence, which is where the flames were coming out from the trailer home. I thought to myself that I have to do this, and, without hesitation, I went into the residence.”
The heroic rescue was captured on video by a witness at the scene. The 23-second video, which has been viewed more than 100,000 times, shows Gonzalez sprinting into the home and disappearing into the black smoke as large flames engulf the home.
The video ends before Gonzalez comes out of the house carrying the boy.
Gonzalez, 25, previously worked more than four years at the Horizon City Police Department.
He humbly said he was just doing his job and is glad the family is OK.
Inside the burning home were an 8-year-old boy, a 75-year-old woman and another woman whose age has not been released. Their names also have not been released.
“I was just patrolling the area by North Loop and Horizon Boulevard when I observed heavy black smoke rising in the air,” Gonzalez said. “I went to go check out the area and as I was getting closer, the black smoke was getting thicker. I got to the intersection close to where the residence is and that is where I saw the trailer homes engulfed in flames. I asked a neighbor and they advised me that the home was in flames and there were at least two people in a home next to it, which was catching on fire.”
After the unsuccessful attempt to break a window to get inside the home, Gonzalez was left with one choice — enter the home through a door with flames coming out of it.
“The door knob was very hot, but I still managed to get it open,” Gonzalez said. “Once I got to the 75-year-old woman and 8-year-old boy, they looked confused and didn’t know where to get out. There was another female inside and that is when I was able to grab onto the child and hold him close to me. I told them to close their mouths and walk out with me. I was able to lead them out through the same front door.”
He added, “The flames were blazing hot, but we got out of the residence and onto the street, and at that point I was able to release the boy to a neighbor for safety.”
Gonzalez said it was a community effort that saved the family.
An off-duty firefighter helped him enter the home and neighbors were helping by trying to put out the fire with water hoses.
Gonzalez then secured the scene until firefighters arrived minutes later.
“We all came together as one community to help this family,” Gonzalez said.
The good deeds didn’t end there for Gonzalez.
“I saw the little boy was upset and I asked him what was wrong,” Gonzalez said. “He said that he had left his American football cleats inside the residence, which had been engulfed in flames. I saw that he was really sad and it was heartfelt for me. I asked what size of cleats he wore and then I didn’t ask him any more questions.”
He continued, “I then went and got him some new cleats, which I am going to give him at a later time.”
One of Gonzalez’s former teachers said on Twitter that she was not surprised by his actions.
“I wouldn’t have expected anything different,” Horizon City High School teacher Joi Woodard said on Twitter. “I had Josh Gonzalez as a young freshman at Horizon High School. So proud of the man he has become. Thank you Josh for your service to our community!”
The city of Socorro also thanked Gonzalez for his brave actions.
“The Socorro Police would also like to recognize one of their own, Officer Joshua Gonzalez, who undertook a selfless act, when he entered one of the houses to remove a family that was still located inside,” Socorro Police Department officials said. “Officer Gonzalez’s actions are a credit to himself and representative of the caliber of officers who work for the city of Socorro.”
Gonzalez said he hopes that the attention his story is receiving will help show the community that “not all police officers are bad,” especially at a time when protesters are calling for the defunding of police departments and criticizing officers.
“We are not all bad,” Gonzalez said. “We are here to serve and protect our community. We are always willing to give ourselves to our community no matter what the situation may be. From the smallest complaint to the biggest issue, we are here to help out.”