BOSTON (CNN) – Dozens of Massachusetts state troopers were honored Monday at the State House.
Three officers stood out among their colleagues. They were part of the SWAT team involved in a shootout with the suspect who killed auburn officer Ron Tarentino.
The gold medal on Trooper Scott McDonald’s chest hangs heavy, a bittersweet reminder of another officer who lost his life. Trooper AJ Kardos, Trooper Michael Baker and Trooper McDonald are part of the state police special tactical operations team.
In May, they shot down Jorge Zambrano during a standoff, ending a manhunt for Zambrano after he shot and killed Auburn police officer Ron Tarentino.
Trooper Kardos was hit by a 45 caliber bullet in his shoulder during the gunfight. Their pain is still sharp.
However, officer Tarentino’s parents say they needed to be there Monday to shake the hands of the heroes who were trying to bring their son’s killer to justice. They know all too well the risk of putting on that uniform every day.
While Sharon Tarentino calls their grief an ugly process, moments like Mondays, are healing ones.
Trooper Kardos’s injury has healed. He plans to return to work in the next few weeks.
The state police also recognized others involved in the Zambrano operation, including medics and a k-9 unit.
“It’s an honor to receive this,” said McDonald.
“It’s a tremendous honor to receive this, but I think the costs, losing Officer Tarentino, it outweighs it,” said Baker.
“It was a hard day for everybody involved, continues to be difficult I’m sure for the Tarentinos,” said Kardos.
“It’s still hard, everybody misses him,” said Sharon Tarentino. “We knew that something could happen, but we never focused on it, so when we got the call, it was like walking into a wall, you know?”
“Now my life and their life is sort of linked together forever, but that’s okay. It’s okay to be reminded of those things from time to time,” said Kardos.