Maryland woman gets Medal of Valor for baseball field heroism

The Baltimore Sun

President Donald Trump presented the Medal of Valor on Thursday to five law enforcement officers who responded to a shooting at a congressional baseball practice in Virginia last month.

The three Alexandria, Va., police officers and the two U.S. Capitol Police officers received a standing ovation when they entered the East Room at the White House. They included Special Agent Crystal Griner of the Capitol Police, who graduated from a Howard County high school and played college basketball at Hood College. She and her wife live in Gwynn Oak.

Griner was shot in the ankle and was on crutches at the Thursday ceremony. She stood as Trump put the medal around her neck, and Trump gave her a kiss on the cheek.

Last month, a heavily armed gunman opened fire on a baseball field in Alexandria where a number of Republican lawmakers and their staff members were practicing for an annual charity baseball game against Democrats.

Rep. Steve Scalise, who was critically wounded in the shooting, was discharged from a hospital this week.

Trump hailed their actions, saying that “these officers saved the lives of every innocent person on the field that day.”

“And in the wake of that horrific attack, our nation was deeply inspired by the heroism of America’s first responders, and we celebrate that today,” Trump said.

He noted the disadvantage the first responders faced, saying the gunman "had rifles, they had handguns. Big difference."

The other honorees were Special Agent David Bailey and Alexandria officers Nicole Battaglia, Kevin Jobe, and Alexander Jensen.

"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 Scalise, a six-term Louisiana Republican, was released 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 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 in "imminent risk of death."

This is the first group of medals presented by Trump since he took office in January.

Baltimore Sun reporter Carrie Wells and the Associated Press contributed to this article.

cwells@baltsun.com

twitter.com/cwellssun

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