WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress on Thursday honored five officers who "ran toward the threat and stopped it" when a gunman opened fire on a congressional baseball practice in June, gravely injuring House Majority Whip Steve Scalise.
Gathering in the U.S. Capitol, leaders of the House and Senate paid tribute to the five officers who initially responded to the attack, presenting them with the U.S. Capitol Police Medal of Honor, the agency's highest honor. The medal is awarded to those who exhibit great courage and voluntary risk their life to help others.
The officers honored were Special Agents David Bailey and Crystal Griner of the U.S. Capitol Police and officers Nicole Battaglia, Alexander Jensen and Kevin Jobe of the Alexandria Police Department. The latter were the first officers from an outside law enforcement agency to receive the honor.
"These men and women we're honoring today ran toward the threat and stopped it, and we can't ever thank you enough," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
Scalise, 51, was seriously wounded when he was struck in the hip, and the bullet tore into blood vessels, bones and internal organs.
Relying on two walking sticks to help him move, Scalise told the officers that their actions prevented a deadly attack similar to the recent massacres in Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs, Texas.
"That day on June 14th could have turned out the exact same way. We all know what the outcome would have been if not for the heroism and the bravery of the men and women on this stage," said Scalise.
Officer Bailey's mother traveled from Brazil to attend the ceremony at the Capitol. Scalise had a message for her. "Your son saved the lives of over a dozen members of Congress and the staff that were out on that ball field that day."
Scalise and four other people were injured June 14 when a gunman opened fire on a Republican baseball practice in nearby Alexandria, Virginia. U.S. Capitol Police and other officers returned fire and killed the gunman. The rifle-wielding attacker had nursed grievances against President Donald Trump and the GOP.
"To see these officers get their due, this really is another milestone in all of our collective recovery," House Speaker Paul Ryan said. "Even as we try to go back to normal, we see that we were so close to losing so many of our friends."