Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker said today he’s no hero and was just doing “what most neighbors would do” when he ran into a burning house to save a woman.
Booker recounted his “come to Jesus” moment today, just hours after he was released from the hospital, where he was treated for second-degree burns and smoke inhalation.
Booker, 43, returned home Thursday evening to find flames shooting out of his neighbor’s home. A woman screamed that her daughter was still inside. The mayor and two of his security detail ran inside, hoping to rescue the woman who Booker said he had known for years.
“It was a really frightening experience for me. I didn’t think we were going to get out of there,” Booker said.
The mayor fought through flames in the kitchen to reach the stairs. When he reached the top of the staircase, Booker said something exploded.
The mayor said he had an “altercation” with Newark Police Detective Alex Rodriguez, who tugged at his belt and wanted the mayor to leave the burning house for his safety.
Booker said the two “had words,” but he wasn’t leaving until he rescued his neighbor.
“I did not feel bravery, I felt terror. It was a very scary moment. I couldn’t breathe. It was a moment I felt very religious,” he said.
Amid the smoke and flames, Booker was able to follow the woman’s screams to find her. He said he carried her over his shoulder and out of the home.
“She was incredibly gracious to me last night, she was very gracious today. The young lady was very disoriented, quite frankly,” he said.
A breathless Booker, who is a prolific user of social media, even found the time to tweet that he was alright after the incident.
“Thanks 2 all who are concerned. Just suffering smoke inhalation. We got the woman out of the house. We are both off to hospital. I will b ok,” he wrote. Booker , who has over a million followers, said he tweeted because it was “a good way to get the word out I was ok.”
The mayor was treated for smoke inhalation and second-degree burns on his thumb and forefinger, which were bandaged.
Booker said he had already been into his office this morning but planned to take a short nap before getting back to work.
The neighbor was listed in stable condition with second-degree burns to her back and neck.
Booker insisted the hero label was “over the top.”
“I’m a neighbor that did what most neighbors would do,” he said.
The hashtag #CoryBookerStories was trending on Twitter after news broke of the mayor’s heroic act.
“Seal Team 6 received training from Cory Booker before getting bin Laden,” one said.
Another poked fun at New Jersey’s governor.
“While Corey Booker was saving a neighbor from a fire, Gov. Christie was running into a bakery to save a tray of cinnamon rolls from burning,” the tweet said.
Booker, a Democrat, was first elected mayor of New Jersey’s largest city in 2006. A graduate of Stanford and Yale Law School, he earlier served on Newark’s City Council. He’s been talked about as a possible candidate for governor.