White House to Honor 13 Law Enforcement Officers for Valor

The White House said Friday that it will honor 13 law enforcement officers for acts of valor under fire.

Among those to be honored are three Santa Monica, California, police officers for their response to a 2013 rampage on a community college campus that left five people dead and a suburban Dallas officer who killed two armed men in a gunfight outside a provocative contest for caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.

President Barack Obama will present the officers with Medals of Valor for exhibiting "exceptional courage, regardless of personal safety, in the attempt to save or protect others from harm."

Those to be decorated are:

  • Santa Monica police Officers Jason Salas and Robert Sparks and Capt. Raymond Bottenfield, who confronted gunman John Zawahri in the campus library at Santa Monica City College in June 2013, shooting and killing the 23-year-old when he pointed his assault weapon at them.
  • Garland, Texas, police Officer Gregory Stevens, who exchanged gunfire with Nadir Soofi and Elton Simpson in May 2015. Stevens killed both gunmen outside an exhibit hall in the Dallas suburb where the provocative cartoon contest was being held, heading off what investigators suspected was a planned mass shooting.
  • Miami-Dade police Officer Mario Gutierrez, who was stabbed multiple times while subduing a knife-wielding man who tried to set off a massive gas explosion that could have caused massive casualties.
  • Johnson City, New York, Patrolman Louis Cioci, who chased and captured at a crowded hospital a gunman who had just killed a fellow officer. Investigators believe Cioci saved the lives of hospital staff, patients and visitors.
  • Midwest City, Oklahoma, police Maj. David Huff, who saved a 2-year-old girl after negotiations deteriorated with a man holding the child captive at knifepoint.
  • Los Angeles police Officer Donald Thompson for, while off duty, crossing two freeway dividers and braving first- and second-degree burns while pulling an unconscious man from a burning car to safety.
  • Omaha, Nebraska, police Officer Coral Walker, who shot and killed a man who had killed and injured multiple people during a shooting rampage.
  • Philadelphia police Sgt. Robert Wilson III, who was killed when he drew fire from assailants during an armed robbery, saving store employees and customers.
  • North Miami, Florida, police Officer Niel Johnson, who endured gunfire from an assault weapon in pursuing and capturing a man who had shot a Miami police officer and two bystanders.
  • FBI Special Agent Tyler Call, who while off duty with his family helped rescue a woman whose ex-husband was holding her at gunpoint.
  • Niagara County, New York, sheriff's Deputy Joey Tortorella, who confronted and subdued a gunman who had shot and wounded his parents inside their home, preventing the gunman from threatening the safety of students at a nearby elementary school.
Copyright AP - Associated Press
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