Police identify man who turned in iconic 9/11 flag

The man who handed Everett firefighters an iconic 9/11 flag from Ground Zero has now been identified.

In Nov. 2014, police started investigating after a man, who identified himself as “Brian” at the time, dropped off a flag at an Everett fire station. The man had claimed that it was the original flag raised by New York City firefighters at the site of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center. The flag disappeared from Ground Zero during the site cleanup.

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Nearly two years after the flag was turned in, Everett resident Brian Browne had seen national coverage on the investigation of the flag. He identified himself and gave more information about the flag’s journey to police.

After detectives interviewed Browne, who described himself as a flag collector, they were able to determine that he was the man who had dropped off the flag.

According to police, Browne received the flag from a friend at a Veteran’s Day gathering in 2006. He believed the friend had received the flag from the wife of a former New York City employee.

"Brian was able to sensibly and chronologically retrace the steps of the route that the flag had traveled from New York City to Everett," said Detective Mike Atwood. "He was also able to corroborate details about the flag and about his initial visit to the fire station."

Everett police investigated the origin and authenticity of the flag. Their investigation included DNA analysis, photographic comparisons, and eyewitness identification.

"My motivation was to return what I thought was lost property, and now to come forward with the actual events for the historical record," Browne said in a statement.

“Ultimately, our detectives concluded that there was enough compelling evidence to determine that this was likely the ground zero flag,” said Chief Dan Templeman. “We then began working with our contacts in New York to develop a plan to return and preserve the flag.”

The flag was donated to the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, where it will remain.

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