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Stories of Heroism

Valor Awards honor Fairfax County police, firefighters.

Fairfax County police officers and firefighters who assumed unusual risks or took heroic action in the course of their duties will be honored Feb. 21 at the 24th annual Valor Awards co-sponsored by the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce and the Board of Supervisors.

Employees of the Fairfax County Police and Fire and Rescue Departments or the Office of the Sheriff can be nominated by their agencies. A selection committee makes awards of several different kinds.

This year, 27 will be presented: five silver medals, nine bronze medals, six lifesaving awards, and seven certificates of valor.

About 700 people are expected to attend the 11:30 a.m. luncheon at the Hilton McLean on Jones Branch Road in Tysons Corner.

The honorees and their families attend as guests of chamber members. The event is one of 10 that comprise the chamber’s “FAME” series of luncheon meetings during the year.

The awards committee is chaired by L. Burwell Gunn, managing director of commercial banking for Provident Bank and past chairman of the chamber. The committee is made up of current and retired police and firefighters, with representatives from the business committee, said chamber Public Affairs Manager Tony Howard.

“It is always one of the most touching and fulfilling events of the year for chamber members,” he said. “It is really astonishing what these people do to keep out communities safe.”

Since 1989, the children of Valor Award winners are eligible for a $1,000 post-secondary scholarship. The chamber is presently raising money to continue the scholarship fund, Howard said.

In March of last year, Detective Abbas Tabatabaie was at the Mount Vernon District Station when he received a phone call from a woman who was helping her niece file a stalking complaint against her estranged boyfriend. As Detective Tabatabaie was talking to the women on the telephone, he heard the boyfriend break into the apartment. Detective Tabatabaie immediately called 911 and relayed the information. Detective Tabatabaie and Detective Donald Bateman drove to the apartment while a Public Safety Communications dispatcher gathered information from two call takers and deployed additional officers.

Once on the scene, both detectives took positions by the front door where they heard a woman screaming for help and pleading for them to rescue her. Detective Tabatabaie kicked open the apartment door and both detectives entered. Detective Bateman spotted a woman with a toddler and guided them out of the apartment to safety. The detectives walked down a hallway toward the sound of voices. Suddenly, shots rang out, hitting the walls behind the detectives. Both detectives took cover by the entrance of the apartment and radioed for additional officers and rescue personnel to respond.

Detectives Tabatabaie and Bateman heard a woman screaming for help inside the apartment, and called to her to come toward them. A few moments later, a woman appeared near the front door suffering gunshot wounds to her head, shoulder and hand. Detective Tabatabaie told the woman to come to him, but she said she was unable to see, so Detective Tabatabaie gave up his position of cover to go to the woman and guide her to safety. She was taken to the hospital where she recovered from her injuries. Investigation later revealed that the estranged boyfriend shot himself.