PUBLISHED: 5:08 PM on Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Saluting a local hero
Heroes are ordinary people who do extraordinary things.

Like Ed Buyarski.

Ed is a gardener and landscaper by vocation. An outdoorsman and a teacher by avocation. And a whole more.

Ed was honored last week by the Alaska Peace Officers Association and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game for his actions. It was the first time in more than 20 years a Juneau resident has been so honored.

You know what Ed did almost a year ago now?

He and a teenage assistant, Alex Griffin Satre, were doing landscaping work behind the Juneau Fred Meyer store while it was being remodeled. An Anchorage painting contractor, Simone Yung Kim, was talking with Ed and Alex when a stranger, 26-year-old Jason Coday, walked up and shot Kim in the face with a sawed off .22 rifle.

Ed and Alex were just feet away when Coday stood over Kim and shot him several more times, killing him.

It's still not clear why.

What is clear is while Coday was standing there with the rifle, maybe trying to decide what to do next, Ed leapt to action.

I don't know what you would have done. I'm confident I'd have been thinking first of cover or self-preservation.

Ed didn't.

He walked straight up to the bigger man he'd just seen gun down another, and grabbed the muzzle of the rifle with both hands, forcing it toward the ground.

"At least if I had my hands on the gun, he couldn't shoot me," Ed said. "If I could get it away from him, all the better," Ed explained to reporters. "There was some give and take, but it was quick. He was bigger, but I was persuasive. I didn't want him to have that gun. Simple as that."

Acts of heroism usually are.

Coday released the rifle and fled into the woods. He was later captured and tried for murder.

What does it take to not just confront, but disarm a clearly agitated man a head taller and 50 pounds heavier?

Ed embodies the best of us, equally at home in the community or in the woods. He's willing to lend a hand to any one, especially a youngster that needs or wants help.

And also "The right man in the right place at the right time," as Lt. Kris Sell of the Juneau Police Department said last week.

Ed and I talk a few times a year, occasionally about gardening or about mutual friends.

Mostly about our mutual love of hunting and the outdoors and about common destinations we've been to or want to hunt.

But never about things as abstract as heroism or service to our fellow man.

And that makes his quick thinking and act of selfless bravery, which almost certainly saved several or many lives including his own, all the more remarkable and humbling.

Thanks from all of us, Ed.

Leschper is general manager of the Capital City Weekly and advertising director of the Juneau Empire.

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