- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 27, 2017

President Trump on Thursday presented the Medal of Valor to five first responders who took on the gunman who opened fire on Republican lawmakers at a baseball practice last month in Alexandria.

The president called the two U.S. Capitol Police officers and three Alexandria Police officers “real heroes whose courageous actions under fire saved so many lives.”

Mr. Trump noted the disadvantage the first responders had, saying the gunman “had rifles, [but] they had handguns. Big difference.”

The Medals of Valor, the highest decoration for bravery for public safety officers, were presented during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, where the officers received a standing ovation as they entered.

The honorees were Alexandria Police Officers Alexander Jensen, Kevin Jobe and Nicole Battaglia, and Capitol Police special agents David Bailey and Crystal Griner, who was on crutches due to injuries from the attack.

The June 14 shootout by a heavily armed sniper at a ball field in Alexandria’s Del Ray neighborhood erupted as Republicans practiced for the annual congressional baseball game.

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, the Louisiana Republican who was critically wounded in the ambush, was released from the hospital on Tuesday.

“I cannot think of a group of individuals more deserving of this award,” Mr. Scalise said Thursday in a statement.

His wife, Jennifer Scalise, attended the ceremony in the East Room.

“Steve is a fighter, we’ve known that for a long time,” Mr. Trump told Mrs. Scalise. “He will recover. We’re pulling for him, and we are sending his family our support and our love.”

Mr. 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.

Mr. Scalise was in good spirits and looking forward to returning to work once he completes his rehabilitation, according to the hospital.

On Monday Mr. Scalise phoned in to the weekly GOP whips’ meeting, thanking everyone for their hard work and expressing appreciation for Capitol Police.

Mr. Scalise and four other people were injured when James Hodgkinson of Belleville, Illinois, opened fire on the baseball ball field. Capitol Police and other officers returned fire and killed Hodgkinson. The rifle-wielding attacker had nursed grievances against Mr. Trump and the Republican Party.

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.

Mr. Scalise’s trauma surgeon, Dr. Jack Sava, told reporters last month that Mr. 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 Mr. Trump since he took office in January.

⦁ This article is based in part on wire service reports.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

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