WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump presented the Medal of Valor on Thursday to five of the first responders who were injured in a shooting on a congressional baseball practice last month that critically wounded Rep. Steve Scalise.
The three Alexandria, Virginia police officers and the two U.S. Capitol police officers received a standing ovation when they entered the East Room at the White House.
Last month, a heavily armed gunman opened fire on a baseball field in Alexandria, Virginia, where a number of Republican lawmakers and their staffers were practicing for an annual charity baseball game against Democrats.
Scalise, the House Majority Whip, was critically wounded in the shooting. He was discharged from a Washington hospital on Wednesday.
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“These officers saved the lives of every innocent person on the field that day,” Trump told the audience, calling them “real heroes whose courageous action under fire saved so many lives.”
He noted the disadvantage the first responders were in, saying the gunman “had rifles, they had handguns. Big difference.”
The honorees were special agents David Bailey, Crystal Griner, and officers Nicole Battaglia, Kevin Jobe, and Alexander Jensen. Griner stood on crutches as Trump draped the medal around her neck.
“They raced through the bullets,” Trump said. “That’s exactly what they did. They raced through the bullets and immediately engaged the gunman.”
Scalise said in a statement Thursday, “I cannot think of a group of individuals more deserving of this award.”
Trump also credited the paramedics, doctors, nurses and surgeons “for saving the lives of the wounded.”
MedStar Washington Hospital Center said Wednesday that the six-term Louisiana Republican had been released from the hospital on Tuesday and is beginning “intensive inpatient rehabilitation.” It did not identify the rehabilitation facility.
“Congressman Steve Scalise has made excellent progress in his recovery from a life-threatening gunshot wound six weeks ago,” the hospital said.
Scalise was in good spirits and looking forward to returning to work once he completes his rehabilitation, according to the hospital. On Monday, Scalise phoned in to the weekly GOP whips’ meeting, thanking everyone for their hard work and expressing appreciation for U.S. Capitol Police.
Scalise and four other people were injured on June 14 when a gunman opened fire on a Republican baseball practice in Alexandria. 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.
The 51-year-old congressman was struck in the hip and the bullet tore into blood vessels, bones and internal organs. He has had several surgeries.
Scalise’s trauma surgeon, Dr. Jack Sava, told reporters last month that Scalise had arrived at the hospital in shock, with intense internal bleeding and “an imminent risk of death.”
This is the first group of medals presented by Trump since he took office in January.
Associated Press writer Vivian Salama contributed to this report.