Those who know one of the four officers who arrested Akayed Ullah after a bomb went off in a tunnel at a Port Authority Bus Terminal say they are not surprised he rushed to help during Monday's terrorist attack in New York City.
Port Authority Officer Sean Gallagher, 26, is a former Marine who graduated in 2009 from Delaware Valley Regional High School in Hunterdon County, New Jersey, where he was on the school's football and wrestling teams.
At Delaware Valley on Tuesday there was pride in his valor, but little surprise among those who know him. "Sean is always looking out for what's best for other people," says Will Kimball, a close friend of Gallagher's brother, Mike. The Gallaghers are from Alexandria Township.
Ullah, 27, of Brooklyn, N.Y., has been charged with supporting an act of terrorism, criminal possession of a weapon and making terroristic threats, the NYPD said Tuesday. Investigators said Ullah intentionally set off the bomb on Monday in a long passageway connecting Seventh and Eighth Avenues near Times Square.
Only three other people were injured, and they suffered ringing in ears and headaches. Ullah suffered burns to his body and hands. He is talking with authorities.
Mike Columbo, who was head football coach when Gallagher played, said his former offensive lineman was "an extremely hard worker who was never selfish about his role and who always put the team first - which is obviously important in the profession he's in now."
Gallagher's work ethic in football attracted the notice of wrestling coach Andy Fitz, who persuaded him to fill an empty slot in the 171-pound weight class senior year. His efforts helped keep the team viable while younger talent was being developed.
Fitz points out one of the college pennants on the wall of his math classroom that was given to him by Gallagher when he went off to Western New England College. He remembers Gallagher as "putting his best effort toward everything."
The officers' actions were also praised by the Port Authority.
"Thanks to the quick response of these brave Port Authority Police officers, the suspect was apprehended, there were no serious injuries and the PABT was secured without further incident," Port Authority Chairman Kevin O'Toole said on Monday. "Our officers responded immediately and put themselves in harm's way to protect the public."
Port Authority Officer John "Jack" F. Collins arrested Ullah at gunpoint, as fellow officers Gallagher, Drew M. Preston and Anthony Manfredini responded to assist, CNN reported.
"Today, four courageous Port Authority police officers risked their lives confronting an armed terrorist to protect others from harm," Port Authority PBA President Paul Nunziato said in a statement. "I am so thankful there was no loss of life and I could not be prouder of our Port Authority police officers, their actions and dedication to their sworn duty."