Two special agents are being hailed as heroes today for springing into action and preventing the Virginia shooting from becoming a massacre.
Capitol Police Officers Crystal Griner and David Bailey were present at the congressional baseball practice as they are members of Rep. Steve Scalise’s security detail.
Although Scalise was one of the injured victims of the shooting and was left in critical condition as a result of his injuries, the actions of Griner and Bailey potentially saved dozens of others, The Daily Beast reports.
The two agents opened fire and were able to take down 66-year-old shooter James Hodgkinson all while suffering injuries themselves. They were both taken to the hospital following the ordeal and are in recovery.
Those close to both of the agents said they expect nothing less from the two. They are both veteran special agents who have put in years on Capitol Hill protecting high-profile politicians.
The two agents were also previously on the security detail of former Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who spoke very highly of them after Wednesday’s shooting.
“[Griner’s] an incredibly able and professional individual who always takes her job and responsibility seriously,” Cantor reportedly told The Daily Beast. “It is not surprising to hear of her heroism and bravery during this horrible attack.”
“The bravery David showed reflects the kind of commitment he, Crystal, and the team demonstrated each and every day,” Cantor added. “Incidents like the attack today are never something many of us even imagine happening. David is a trained professional who was and remains ready to act whatever the threat. Wishing him a full recovery.”
Luckily, both of the brave agents’ injuries are non-life-threatening.
“I’m grateful that Special Agent Griner is in good condition in the hospital having been shot in the ankle, and Special Agent Bailey was treated and released having sustained a minor injury during the incident,” U.S. Capitol Police Chief Matthew Verderosa announced in a statement Wednesday.
In addition to being respected officers, Griner and Bailey are both African-American, and Griner is also a member of the LGBT community, according to Fusion.
Before joining the Capitol Police, Bailey worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He graduated from North Carolina Central University in 2007 where, as a student, he served as president of the university's chapter of the historically black fraternity Alpha Phi Alpha.
“He always had a passion for law enforcement,” said Bailey’s friend Casey Adams Jones. “He refers to the other officers as his brothers and sisters.”
Griner is a Maryland native who graduated from Hood College located in the city of Frederick. She was a star basketball player during her time at the university after becoming one of the team's top scorers her freshman year.
"She was a woman to be reckoned with at Hood: an amazing athlete and a lively presence,” one of Griner’s former college classmates wrote on Facebook. “It does not surprise me at all that she would think so quickly and act so courageously. You’re not on Facebook, Crystal, but I’m honored to know you. Wishing you a speedy recovery and the knowledge that you have the gratitude of the nation behind you!”
There is a not-so-subtle irony surrounding the fact that two minority officers are responsible for saving a group of people associated with a political party that, in most cases, does not support minorities. This includes Scalise, who has been criticized in the past for affiliating with racists.
Differences aside, however, Griner and Bailey were instrumental in keeping everyone on that field alive.
Most congress members don’t have their own security details, but high-ranking officials like Scalise typically do. While it is unfortunate that Scalise was struck during the shooting, everyone involved is lucky he was on the field with them.
If he hadn’t been there with his security detail, there wouldn’t have been any armed and trained professionals present to stop the shooter, which likely would have resulted in Hodgkinson carrying out a slaughter.
“Our lives were saved by the Capitol Police. Had they not been there I think it would have been a massacre,” Sen. Rand Paul said on CNN. “The field, I mean, was basically a killing field.”
Alas, Griner and Bailey weren’t the only heroes on the field.
Ohio Rep. Brad Wenstrup, who previously served as an Army combat surgeon in the Iraq War, was able to provide immediate medical attention to Scalise’s hip before emergency personnel arrived on the scene.
“You never expect a baseball field in America to feel like being back in a combat zone in Iraq, but this morning it did,” Wenstrup reportedly said.
Additionally, the Alexandria Police Department and first responders have been applauded for arriving to the field within minutes, thus helping the victims quickly get the treatment they needed.
“Capitol Police and emergency responders reacted swiftly and courageously — we are grateful for their presence,” Wenstrup said.
House Speaker Paul Ryan also thanked first responders on the floor of the chamber, as well as Griner and Bailey, while members of Congress gave a standing ovation.
These fast-acting heroes were able to stop this terrible ordeal from becoming a full-blown bloodbath.