Brooklyn Park felon honored as hero for saving woman from fire - KMSP-TV

Brooklyn Park felon honored as hero for saving woman, 92, from fire

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BROOKLYN PARK, Minn. (KMSP) -

A Minnesota man will soon be nationally recognized as a hero for saving a wheelchair-bound woman from a burning home in Brooklyn Park, but he'll have to wait to claim his reward until he is released from prison.

FOX 9 News tried to catch up with Pierre Johnson to ask him about the prestigious honor he will soon receive, but he didn't pick up his phone or answer the door because it turns out he isn't only serving others, he's also serving time.

Yet, in Johnson's Brooklyn Park neighborhood, people never forget fires or heroes.

"It happened so fast -- the house engulfed in flames," recalled Justin Larson.

Last May, Johnson ran into the burning home on the corner of Vincent Circle in front of a crowd of neighbors.

"There were people from all the way down the street down to the corner here watching," Sarah Larson said.

When he came back out, he had 92-year-old Audrey Stewart in his arms. She was confined to a wheelchair and was trapped inside.

"He was the only one that would risk his life to go in there and save her," Justin Larson said.

On Thursday, the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission, which is based in Pittsburgh, Pa., agreed to name Johnson as one of 22 national recipients of the Carnegie Medal.

"He did what all of our awardees do in that he risked his life to an extraordinary degree saving, or attempting to save, another life," Doug Chambers explained.

The situation gets complicated, however, because Johnson is a well-known felon in the community and he has a lengthy rap sheet. In fact, he's currently serving time in Moose Lake Correctional for selling cocaine.

"I also just learned today of the challenges of getting the award to him," Brooklyn Park Fire Chief Kenneth Prillaman admitted.

Prillaman admits Johnson's prison term does throw a curveball into the feel-good moment, but he quickly points out that he did save a life.

"It proves that even in a life that may not be full of great choices, each one of us can make a decision to have a good, positive impact on this community," he said.

Ultimately, that's what matters most to the Carnegie Hero Fund and Johnson's neighbors.

"I think he should still get it because he was still a hero," Sarah Larson said. "Maybe it will help him change his life around."

A commission spokesperson told FOX 9 News Johnson's legal troubles did not impact their decision. As such, he will still get his medal and $5,000 dollars once he is released later this month.

The award marks the 95th time a Minnesotan has been honored as a hero.

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