A veteran D.C. police officer from Ellicott City was awarded the Congressional Badge of Bravery on Wednesday for his role in shooting the gunman in the Navy Yard mass shooting two years ago.
Officer Dorian DeSantis received the medal at a ceremony held at the University of Baltimore Law Center.
"It was a team effort all the way through. It can't be done with one guy," DeSantis said. "I thank you for this award and I will be the keeper for everyone else who responded that day," DeSantis said.
Congressman Elijah E. Cummings said at the ceremony that without DeSantis' and the other officers' actions, "it was a situation that could have been much worse."
After getting into the sprawling 600,000 square foot office complex in Washington, DeSantis, along with a U.S. Park Police officer Carl Hiott, were among 117 officers who responded and were tasked with clearing Building 197 on Sept. 16, 2013.
Once getting inside and connecting with each other, DeSantis said, simply "we pushed through," before they shot Aaron Alexis, who was hidden beneath a desk and had already killed 12 people.
U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein also spoke of the officer's "remarkable moment of bravery," and how he continued to pursue Alexis, even after he had been shot once in the chest, striking his protective vest.
D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier described the scene that day, recalling hearing radio transmissions from colleagues.
"We were standing there, watching our colleagues, some of whom I went to the academy with, go through the maze of the Navy Yard, and listening to radio transmissions from our colleagues, [a call of] 'officer down,' shots fired repeatedly, eight separate gun battles inside the building," Lanier recalled.
"We were thinking what I think most cops were thinking. One, we were focused on saving complete strangers," she said, but "also in the back of their minds they are thinking about their family."