Sept. 9 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump recognized 11 heroes of the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, for bravery, selflessness and valor that saved countless lives.
Six police officers from Dayton, Ohio, were awarded the Public Safety Medal of Valor for responding quickly when a gunman opened fire in a crowded bar district early in the morning of Aug. 4. The six officers are William C. Knight, Brian Rofles, Jeremy Campbell, Vincent Carter, Ryan Nabel and David Denlinger.
The six officers engaged the shooter, Connor Betts, 24, and killed him less than 30 seconds after he opened fire in a retail district of Dayton. Sgt. Knight was the first to respond from his police cruiser about 150 feet away. He heard the gunfire and jumped out of his car to return fire. Rofles ran directly toward the shooter followed quickly by the other four officers. All engaged him at close range.
"They defied fear and stared down death to protect the innocent -- and stand tall they did, just for righteous and for good," Trump said.
Betts wore a mask, bulletproof vest and hearing protection and was armed with a semi-automatic pistol police say was modified with a long barrel and extended-capacity drum magazine.
Trump credited them with confronting the "worst violence and most barbaric hatred."
"Few people could have done or even would have done what they did," Trump said.
Nine people died and 27 were injured, though many were hurt in the ensuing chaos as people trampled others to escape the scene.
The Public Safety Medal of Valor award is the highest decoration for bravery a public safety officer can receive in the United States.
Attorney General William Barr said the Medal of Valor was established in 2001 and the officers must be nominated by their peers.
"For the people out in Dayton that night, these officers were the thin blue line between life and death," Barr said. "While that line may be thin, it is very strong."
Barr said the officers went against their basic instincts to flee danger and instead ran straight toward it.
"Valor connotes a willingness to put oneself in mortal danger to protect others," Barr said.
Trump also awarded the certificate of commendation to five civilians who rushed to rescue others when a gunman opened fire inside an El Paso Walmart Supercenter on Aug. 3. The attack left 22 dead and 27 wounded.
Walmart store manager Robert Evans was outside the store entrance when the gunman opened fire.
"He saw the killer heading towards the store, so he raced inside and directed customers toward the nearest emergency exits, helping hundreds escape to safety," Trump said. "Robert, you exemplify noble leadership and selfless service."
Walmart employee Gilbert Serna heard Evans' alert over the radio and without hesitation started helping customers escape out the rear exit, boosting some over a 12-foot wall while hiding others inside shipping containers.
"Who would think of that, under these circumstance?" Trump asked. "A lot of people would just run for their lives."
McDonalds manager Marisela Luna was working at the store inside the Walmart when the shooting started.
"She quickly gathered customers from the lobby and led them to refrigerators and other hiding places, shielding them from the shooter's line of sight," Trump said.
McDonald's supervisor Angelica Silva was working at another store location when she heard of the shooting. She drove straight to the scene out of concern for her employees.
"Upon arriving, Angelica saw two people in the parking lot who were very, very badly wounded," Trump said. "She alerted first responders and helped save the life of one of the severely injured victims."
Chris Grant was buying snacks for his children when he saw the gunman a few aisles away shooting at shoppers.
"Chris grabbed -- listen to this -- soda bottles and anything else in front of him, and began hurling them at the gunman, distracting him from the other shoppers and causing the shooter to turn toward Chris and fire at Chris, whereby Chris suffered two serious gunshot wounds," Trump said. "But he is recovering well and we wish him the best."