WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump presented the nation’s highest award for public safety Monday to six Ohio police officers who responded swiftly to reports of gunfire last month in Dayton, confronted the shooter in under a minute and prevented more deaths.
Trump also recognized five civilians who put themselves at risk after a gunman opened fire at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, in August.
The twin shootings, hours apart, sparked renewed national discussion of gun control, a topic on Congress’ agenda as it returned to Washington on Monday.
“These incredible patriots responded to the worst violence and most barbaric hatred with the best of American courage character and strength,” Trump said at the White House as he shared a stage in the East Room with the 11 men and women.
“Faced with grave and harrowing threats, the men and women standing behind us stepped forward to save the lives of their fellow Americans,” he said.
The six police officers each received the Medal of Valor, established in 2001 as the nation’s highest public safety award. Nine people were killed and more than two dozen were wounded in the early morning attack Aug. 4 in a bustling entertainment district.
Since they are civilians, the five individuals from El Paso, each received Certificates of Commendation for “displaying tremendous bravery,” Trump said, and helping others to flee the scene of the Aug. 3 shooting, in which 22 people were killed and many others wounded.
Trump had already recognized 14 public safety officers with the Medal of Valor earlier this year. Attorney General William Barr, who joined Trump at the ceremony, said the law allows him to expand the number of recipients “when exceptional instances of bravery arise.”
“So that’s what we did this year,” Barr said.