A police officer who risked his life during the Pulse nightclub shooting has been fired just six months before he could collect his full pension.
Corporal Omar Delgado of the Eatonville Police Department was one of the first to arrive at the club on June 12, 2016, when a lone gunman murdered 49 people and injured dozens more. Wading through the carnage and seeing the bodies, Delgado developed PTSD and has mainly worked on desk duty since then.
He tried returning to work weeks after the shooting, but even the loud bursts of fireworks on July 4th triggered flashbacks.
Then, earlier this year, Officer Delgado was told he was being being replaced. The department needed another officer on patrol, a duty he wasn’t able to fulfill. “I never thought I would have gotten to this point,” he told the Orlando Sentinel. “I thought I’d shake it off and everything would be fine,” he said. “But that hasn’t happened. Nothing has been right since that day.”
He’s ready to go, but he asked for an additional six months so he can reach his 10-year mark with the force, which would allow him to be fully vested and receive 64% of his salary with benefits for life. His request was declined.
“Just let me get vested and I will be more than happy to pack up my troubles and leave,” he told the Sentinel. “This is the thing I’ve been working toward for 10 years and to be six months shy then be fired, it’s like ‘wow!’ ”
As a result Delgado will only receive 42% of his $38,500 salary. His last day on the job is December 31.
“It’s a small town and we’re like a family,” he added. “You don’t just throw a family member to the street. They’re acting like a Fortune 500 company and saying since you can’t do your job, we’re going to replace you. Even if the world saw me as a hero, that was yesterday.”
One of the people Delgado rescued was Angel Colon, whose story has touched millions of people worldwide. Colon says he’s stunned by how Delgado has been treated.
“God sent him and he was my hero that night,” Colon told WFTV-TV. “Without him, who knows if I would have stayed inside that club and not made it out.”
Delgado’s firing “is a slap to my face, as well,” says Colon. “He did his job that night on June 12 so they should have his back 100% totally and just be there for whatever he needs.”
The Eatonville police department refused to comment on the situation. Mayor Eddie Cole said the situation is complicated, but promises to start a conversation about helping officers after traumatic incidents.
A GoFundMe campaign has been started to help Delgado cover expenses for himself, his wife and his three children.