WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump presented the Medal of Valor on Monday to six police officers who responded to the Dayton, Ohio, mass shooting last month and honored five civilians for their actions at the scene of the shooting in El Paso, Texas that same weekend.
Trump recognized the “unbelievably exceptional Americans” at a solemn White House ceremony at which he recounted the actions of two gunmen that left 31 people dead and many others injured.
“These incredible patriots responded to the worst violence and most barbaric hatred with the best of American courage, character and strength,” Trump said. “Faced with grave and harrowing threats, the men and women standing behind us stepped forward to save the lives of their fellow Americans. Few people could have done, and even would have done, what they did.”
During his remarks, the president made no mention of legislation that Democrats have urged him to embrace to strengthen background checks for gun purchasers. In the aftermath of the shootings, Trump vowed to push such measures, but his posture has been less clear in recent weeks.
The Medal of Valor is the highest public safety award bestowed by the president. Trump said the six officers honored Monday responded “with the best of American courage” to the early-morning attack in an entertainment district in Dayton.
Five civilians were also given “heroic commendations” for their roles in responding to the attack at a Walmart Supercenter in El Paso.
Honorees included the store manager, whom Trump said was outside when the first shots were fired and raced inside to help others escape.
The alleged gunman posted a manifesto that included harsh rhetoric against immigrants, describing his attack as “a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.”
“It was racist attack motivated by pure evil,” Trump said Monday.