WASHINGTON – It took just 20 seconds for police officers in Dayton, Ohio, to begin firing at a gunman last month, taking him down after he killed nine people and wounded 27 others in the city's entertainment district.
On Monday, President Donald Trump presented six of the city's officers with the Medal of Valor, the highest honor for law enforcement officers. In a White House ceremony, Trump said that the officers rushed toward certain danger.
He also gave certificates of commendation to five people from El Paso, Texas, who risked their lives to help others during a mass shooting at a Walmart there a day earlier.
Together, 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."
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 Dayton massacre began in the early hours of Aug. 4, when a gunman carrying an AR-15-style rifle and dressed in body armor started shooting. The assailant, identified as Connor Betts, 24, struck more than two dozen people in 32 seconds.
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, Trump awarded the medal to Sgt. William Knight and officers Brian Rolfes, Jeremy Campbell, Vincent Carter, Ryan Nabel and David 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 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," Trump said. "These 11 individuals answered the call. They stared down evil. They put love of neighbor above life itself."