When a suicidal man aimed a loaded gun at him, Butler Police Sgt. Jorge Reyes simply did what he was trained to do: He shot back.
Calmly. Confidently. Without hesitation.
Reyes says his preparedness for the March 31, 2016 incident -- in which gunman Dylan Howard said he'd hoped he be shot and killed in a "suicide by cop" -- is what allowed him to return home unharmed that night to his then-4-year-old son.
Now 7, his boy was by his side Tuesday when Reyes was promoted and sworn in as sergeant -- on the very same day, coincidentally, that Howard was sentenced to 12 years in prison.
Reyes feels exceptionally grateful to be where he is, both professionally and personally.
"I'm a father before an officer," said Reyes, 38 of Paterson, who begins his 12th year with the Butler Police Department next month.
"My son didn't know about the shooting until recently because I didn't want to scare him," he said. "There are certain things you can't tell your family about that goes on at work.
"In situations like [the shooting], that's what you think about."
Reyes began dreaming of a career in law enforcement when he was around his son's age.
He feels lucky to be living it.
"I always knew I wanted to be a police officer," Reyes said. "I found my purpose."
Reyes previously worked as a volunteer EMT in Garfield, Newark, Paterson and at the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford.
For him, the rewards of working in law enforcement far outweigh the risks.
"[The shooting] made me appreciate everything I have," he said. "As an officer, I think it made me sharper.
"Some people take working in a small town for granted, and it’s nothing like that," Reyes added. "You have to be ready for any situation no matter where you work."
Not one to panic easily, Reyes is cut out for police work. He scored highest of the eight Butler police officers who took the most recent Civil Service sergeant's exam.
Colleagues say his future is bright.
Reyes "has been a good officer ever since he started here," Lt. Michael Moeller told Daily Voice. "He's streetwise.
"I think he’s going to do great."
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