Trump Honors Police Officers and Civilians in El Paso and Dayton Shootings

WASHINGTON — It took just 20 seconds for police officers in Dayton, Ohio, to begin firing at a gunman one morning last month, taking him down after he killed nine people and wounded 27 others in the city’s entertainment district.

On Monday, President Trump presented six of the city’s officers with the medal of valor, the highest honor for law enforcement officers. In a ceremony at the White House, Mr. Trump said that the officers rushed toward certain danger in an effort to protect the city’s residents.

The president also awarded certificates of commendation to five people from El Paso who risked their lives to help others during a separate mass shooting at a Walmart store there a day earlier.

Together, Mr. Trump said, the recipients “responded to the worst violence and most barbaric hatred with the best of American courage, character and strength.

“Faced with grave and harrowing threats, the men and women standing behind us stepped forward to save the lives of their fellow Americans,” he said. “Few people could have done, and even would have done, what they did.”

Mr. Trump did not comment on the debate over gun control that erupted again after the two mass shootings, saying only that the El Paso attack was a “racist attack motivated by pure evil” and that the Dayton shooting was committed by “a vile, wicked murderer.”

The massacre in Dayton began in the early hours of Aug. 4, when a gunman carrying an AR-15-style rifle and dressed in body armor started shooting. Police said the assailant, identified as Connor Betts, 24, struck more than two dozen people in 32 seconds.

Mr. Betts was shot and killed by an officer’s bullet, quickly ending his rampage. The city’s police chief called the police response “crucial,” “immediate” and “effective.”

The president said the quick response by the officers prevented the gunman from killing even more people as he stood in front of Ned Peppers, a bar in the city’s downtown.

On Monday, Mr. Trump awarded the medal to: Sgt. William C. Knight and Officers Brian L. Rolfes, Jeremy M. Campbell, Vincent J. Carter, Ryan D. Nabel and David M. Denlinger.

“These six officers ended the violent rampage and saved countless lives,” he said.

The president also praised five people from El Paso who he said helped save shoppers when, as Mr. Trump said, “a soulless and bigoted monster killed 22 innocent people and wounded 27 others.”

The president awarded the certificate to Robert Evans, Gilbert Serna, Marisela Luna, Angelica Silva and Chris Grant.

“In the darkest moments of danger and despair, God calls the bravest to action,” Mr. Trump said. “These 11 individuals answered the call. They stared down evil. They put love of neighbor above life itself.”

The Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor, which was first established by President Bill Clinton in 2000 and later formalized by an act of Congress in 2001, is meant to honor bravery among police officers and firefighters throughout the country. President Barack Obama presented the award to 13 public safety officers in 2016.

In 2017, Mr. Trump awarded the medal to five officers who responded to an attack on members of Congress at a baseball field. In 2018, the president presented the medal to 12 public safety officers who he said risked “their lives to protect America’s citizens and communities.”