Officers, Rep. Scalise awarded for bravery during baseball shooting

Steve Scalise, Matthew Verderosa, Paul Ryan
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., right, is presented with a Medal of Merit by Capitol Hill police chief Matthew Verderosa, left, as House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis., center, applauds during a ceremony on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017. Scalise was honored along with five officers who were presented with the Medal of Honor who “carried out their duties with exceptional courage, risking their lives to save others when an active shooter opened fire on the Republican Congressional baseball team’s practice,” in June in Alexandria, Virginia, injuring Scalise and others. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Steve Scalise, Paul Ryan
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., right, talks with House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis., left, as they attend a ceremony on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017. Five officers were presented with the Medal of Honor, the highest award granted by the department, to the five officers who “carried out their duties with exceptional courage, risking their lives to save others when an active shooter opened fire on the Republican Congressional baseball team’s practice,” in June in Alexandria, Virginia, injuring Scalise and others. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Matthew Verdarosa, David Bailey, Paul Ryan, Steve Scalise
Capitol Hill Police Chief Matthew Verdarosa, left, presents Capitol Hill police special agent David Bailey, second from left, with a Medal of Honor during a ceremony on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017. House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis., center, and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., second from right, applaud. Five officers were presented with the Medal of Honor, the highest award granted by the department, to the five officers who “carried out their duties with exceptional courage, risking their lives to save others when an active shooter opened fire on the Republican Congressional baseball team’s practice,” in June in Alexandria, Virginia, injuring Scalise and others. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Matthew Verdarosa, Crystal Griner, Paul Ryan, Steve Scalise
Capitol Hill Police Chief Matthew Verdarosa, left, presents Capitol Hill police special agent Crystal Griner, second from left, with a Medal of Honor during a ceremony on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017. House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis., second from right, and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., right, applaud. Five officers were presented with the Medal of Honor, the highest award granted by the department, to the five officers who “carried out their duties with exceptional courage, risking their lives to save others when an active shooter opened fire on the Republican Congressional baseball team’s practice,” in June in Alexandria, Virginia, injuring Scalise and others. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Tom Reed, Jackie Walorski, Kevin McCarthy, Steve Scalise, Diane Black, Kristi Noem, Kevin Brady
House Ways and Means members from left, Rep. Tom Reed, R-N.Y., Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-Ind., House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., and House Ways and Means Committee chairman Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas walk out to speak to the media following their meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) (AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Steve Scalise
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., makes his way to the chamber on a motorized scooter for the vote on the $4 trillion budget measure that will pave the way for a sweeping GOP tax overhaul, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017. Scalise was critically wounded in a shooting at a congressional baseball practice earlier this year. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) (AP/J. Scott Applewhite)
Steve Scalise
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., throws out a ceremonial first pitch before Game 1 of baseball’s National League Division Series between the Washington Nationals and the Chicago Cubs, at Nationals Park, Friday, Oct. 6, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) (AP/Alex Brandon)
Steve Scalise
House Republican Whip Steve Scalise pumps his fist after throwing out the ceremonial first pitch before the start of Game 1 of baseball’s National League Division Series between the Chicago Cubs and Washington Nationals at Nationals Park, Friday, Oct. 6, 2017, in Washington. Scalise recently returned to work at the Capitol, more than three months after a baseball practice shooting left him fighting for his life. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) (AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Dusty Baker, Steve Scalise
Former Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker (12) greets House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., after he threw out a ceremonial first pitch before Game 1 of baseball’s National League Division Series against the Chicago Cubs, at Nationals Park, Friday, Oct. 6, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) (AP/Alex Brandon)
Steve Scalise
House Republican Whip Steve Scalise walks with his wife Jennifer, left, as he leaves the House chamber in the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017. To hugs and a roaring bipartisan standing ovation, Scalise returned to the House, more than three months after a baseball practice shooting left him fighting for his life.( AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana) (AP/Jose Luis Magana)
This image from House Television shows House Republican Whip Steve Scalise speaking on the House floor of the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017.  To hugs and a roaring bipartisan standing ovation, Scalise returned to the House on Thursday, more than three months after a baseball practice shooting left him fighting for his life. (House Television via AP)
This image from House Television shows House Republican Whip Steve Scalise speaking on the House floor of the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017. To hugs and a roaring bipartisan standing ovation, Scalise returned to the House on Thursday, more than three months after a baseball practice shooting left him fighting for his life. (House Television via AP) (AP)
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Steve Scalise, Matthew Verderosa, Paul Ryan
Steve Scalise, Paul Ryan
Matthew Verdarosa, David Bailey, Paul Ryan, Steve Scalise
Matthew Verdarosa, Crystal Griner, Paul Ryan, Steve Scalise
Tom Reed, Jackie Walorski, Kevin McCarthy, Steve Scalise, Diane Black, Kristi Noem, Kevin Brady
Steve Scalise
Steve Scalise
Steve Scalise
Dusty Baker, Steve Scalise
Steve Scalise
This image from House Television shows House Republican Whip Steve Scalise speaking on the House floor of the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017.  To hugs and a roaring bipartisan standing ovation, Scalise returned to the House on Thursday, more than three months after a baseball practice shooting left him fighting for his life. (House Television via AP)

WASHINGTON — Five officers who risked their lives to save others when a gunman opened fire during a Republican congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia, in June were awarded with the U.S. Capitol Police Medal of Honor Thursday.

It’s the highest award granted by the department.

U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., who was shot, was awarded the Medal of Merit for his courage under fire. But he pointed out that things would have been far worse without the officers’ selfless actions.

“These five brave men and women prevented a mass execution,” Rep. Scalise said.

Thursday’s speakers at the Congressional Auditorium ceremony also included House Speaker Paul Ryan, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

The event started shortly after 10 a.m. at the Capitol Visitor Center.

“The bravery of these officers makes me proud to be chief of police,” Capitol Police Chief Matthew Verderosa said during the ceremony.

House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called the officers’ actions an “inspiration to us all.”

She thanked the entire Capitol Police Department for its patriotism and service.

Sen. Schumer, D-NY, called the ballfield gunman “unhinged” and said the shooter was carrying “weapons of war.”

Sen. McConnell, R-Ky., echoed the praise for Capitol police.

“Today is another chance for each of us to both recognize and thank the men and women of our Capitol police force for everything they do to protect our nation’s capitol, the people who work here and the millions who visit this important symbol of our democracy,” he said.

Rep. Ryan, R-Wis., pointed out how deadly the shooting could have been. “Even as we try to go back to normal, we see that we were so close to losing so many of our friends.”

Scalise was critically injured in the shooting and didn’t return to the Capitol until September.

The bullet that hit Scalise fractured bones and tore through internal organs. He arrived at Medstar Washington Hospital Center at “imminent risk of death,” trauma surgeon Dr. Jack Sava said at the time.

Four others also were hurt.

The officers honored were U.S. Capitol Police Special Agents David Bailey and Crystal Griner, and Alexandria police officers Nicole Battaglia, Alexander Jensen and Kevin Jobe.

Bailey and Griner were injured in the shooting.

In the shooting, the FBI identified the gunman as 66-year-old James T. Hodgkinson, of Belleville, Illinois.

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Authorities say Hodgkinson had moved to the D.C. region shortly before the shooting. He was allegedly living out of a white cargo van in the East Monroe Street area since March and was not working.

According to posts on his Facebook page and letters to his hometown newspaper, Hodgkinson had a history of railing against income inequality and the Republican Party.

Scalise spoke publicly of the attack in September when he returned to the Hill.

“You have no idea how great this feels to be back here at work in the people’s house,” the 51-year-old Louisiana Republican said to a chamber packed with lawmakers, including senators who had crossed the Capitol to welcome him back.

He thanked the officers who helped kill the shooter and he praised the doctors who patched him together through repeated surgeries.

Scalise’s homecoming recalled the August 2011 return to the House of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., who was seriously wounded during a mass shooting in Tucson, Arizona.

Since her shooting, Giffords has become a national leader of gun control efforts. The group she founded with husband Mark Kelly, Americans for Responsible Solutions, emailed a fundraising solicitation Thursday, asking for money to help pressure Congress “to put our safety ahead of the corporate gun lobby’s profits.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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