A Boston-area man who disarmed a gunman robbing passengers on a CTA Blue Line train in 2019 was just awarded a medal and $5,500 for his good deed from the Carnegie Hero Fund.
Jean-Paul LaPierre was on a crowded train car on his way downtown to run the Chicago Marathon when he encountered the gunman, took his gun and held him until police arrived. Video of the encounter went viral.
“I started crying, I was overwhelmed,” LaPierre, 56, said of learning last week that he was one of 18 people selected to be a Hero Fund recipient. The selections were publicly announced Wednesday.
The Hero Fund was endowed more than 100 years ago by famed steel magnate Andrew Carnegie to regularly honor civilian heroes with a bronze medallion and an award of $5,500.
LaPierre, who goes by J.P. and manages a self-storage facility, isn’t your standard humble hero.
He was upset in the weeks after he performed the good deed because he hadn’t received any sort of official recognition from Chicago.
It was important, he explained at the time, because he was a former drug addict and had worked hard to change his life.
“Recognition confirms for me that I made the right decisions, and I am trying live a good life ... that I’m on the right path,” he said.
The City Council later passed a resolution extending “sincere gratitude” to LaPierre.
A spokesman for the Hero Fund said LaPierre came to their attention through media coverage of his heroics.
LaPierre began running marathons as a bandit — or someone who didn’t pay the entry fee — more than two decades ago because he couldn’t afford it and was too embarrassed to ask people for help out of fear they’d think he would spend the money on drugs.
He plans to run the Chicago Marathon again this year — but plans to pay his way.
As for the money he’ll receive as part of the Hero Fund award, LaPierre said he plans to spend it on a trip to Brazil so his wife can see her family for the first time in over a decade.
On a side note: LaPierre said Wednesday he’s considering a move to Chicago in order to run for mayor.
“Crazier things have happened. I know I could make a big difference out there,” he said.
Prior to LaPierre, the last heroic acts in Chicago that led to a Hero Fund award took place in 2015 when Ray Robinson and Christopher Smith put themselves in danger to help two Chicago police officers.
The two men stepped in to assist the officers detain a shoplifter who grabbed a gun from the holster of one of the officers outside a North Side drugstore. Robinson and Smith helped subdue the man and take away the gun.
The Hero Fund chooses a batch of about 20 recipients four times a year. Anyone can nominate someone for the award by visiting its website, www.carnegiehero.org.