President Donald Trump and other prominent Republicans are hailing two Black Capitol Hill police officers as heroes after the officers risked their lives to take down an Illinois gunman.
The officers, Special Agents Crystal Griner and David Bailey, were injured in the line of duty June 14 after exchanging fire with James T. Hodgkinson, 66, who shot at Republican lawmakers in Alexandra, Va., while they practiced for a charity baseball game.
Bailey was treated and released the same day. Griner remained hospitalized after she was shot in the ankle.
Both officers fatally shot Hodgkinson in the gun battle. The gunman had previously volunteered for Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign and expressed disdain for President Donald J. Trump and conservatives on social media.
“Trump is a Traitor. Trump has Destroyed Our Democracy. It’s time to Destroy Trump & Co.,” Hodgkinson posted March 22 to his personal Facebook page.
“Republicans are the Taliban of the USA,” he posted in February.
The special agents were among several people hit by Hodgkinson’s bullets. Also shot was House Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise (R- La.), who remained in critical condition late June 15 at MedStar Washington Hospital Center.
Griner and Bailey are part of Scalise’s security detail.
Republicans say quick action from Griner and Bailey prevented the shooting from becoming a massacre. USA Today reported that Griner and Bailey were only at the baseball field because of Scalise’s leadership role in the House — rank-and-file members don’t have security details.
Trump visited Griner and her wife at MedStar Washington Hospital Center on the evening of June 14, the Baltimore Sun reported. He called Griner a “terrific young woman.”
“Crystal is one of the two Capitol Police officers who saved so many lives through her heroism, along with David Bailey,” Trump said. “They ran right into the fire. They ran right into those guns and the bullets, and they saved a lot of lives. America salutes both of their courage. They have great, great courage.”
Meanwhile, Vice President Mike Pence also praised Griner and Bailey in a June 16 speech he made in Miami.
“The courageous actions of Crystal Griner and David Bailey saved lives and prevented an even greater tragedy and the American people are grateful for these police officers,” Pence said.
Bailey has worked as a Capitol police officer for more than nine years, according to his LinkedIn page. Before that, he worked at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He graduated from North Carolina Central University in 2007 with a degree in physical education and served as president of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.
Griner graduated from Howard High School in Ellicott City, Md., and played basketball at Hood College in Frederick, Md. She studied biology there and graduated in 2006, the Baltimore Sun reported.
The charity baseball game against the Democrats took place as scheduled on June 15. Bailey threw out the first pitch, according to the Washington Examiner. Democrats defeated Republicans 11-2.