Heroes of 2017

Heroes of 2017
By Chris Amos

Have you ever heard of Crystal Griner, David Bailey, or Henry Cabrera? How about Nicole Battaglia, Alexander Jensen, or Kevin Jobe? Not exactly household names. In fact, you could be in the same grocery store or movie theater with any one of these men or women and would never even realize it, and I suspect that is just the way these six heroes would want it.

In a day and age when the term hero is thrown around without much thought, it is an honor to recognize six selfless heroes, doing the right thing, the right way, for the right reason while risking their very lives in the process. Crystal Griner, David Bailey, and Henry Cabrera are Special Agents with the Capitol Hill Police Department. Nicole Battaglia, Alexander Jensen, and Kevin Jobe are police officers with the Alexandria, VA. Police Department. We often speak of the family who is the Thin Blue Line. On June 14, 2017 these six law enforcement officers from two different agencies truly became one family.

The day had begun like any other. About twenty-five Republican members of Congress had gathered at a ball field in Alexandria, just across the Potomac River, in the shadow of Washington D.C. The men were practicing for the Annual Congressional Baseball Game for Charity. They had practiced at the same time, same place for weeks. This was to be the last practice before the big game. Among those present was Rep. Steve Scalise, the Republican Majority Whip in the House of Representatives. As the Majority Whip, Scalise had a security detail that accompanied him in his travels. Special Agents Crystal Griner, David Bailey, and Henry Cabrera were that detail. This would prove to be the difference between a tragic shooting that left five people injured and a suspect dead, and what those present described as what would have most certainly been a “massacre.”

About thirty minutes into the practice the first shots were fired by a 66-year-old miscreant. Scalise, standing by second base, was instantly hit as were two other men. Special Agents Griner, Bailey and Cabrera immediately responded, working to both protect the unarmed congressmen and stop the gunman who had taken cover by the third base dugout. The Special Agents, on the first base side of the field, began to return fire. The actions of the agents pinned the suspect down, greatly limiting his ability to fire at will on the exposed congressmen still out in the field.

Within three or four minutes Alexandria P.D. Officers Nicole Battaglia, Alexander Jensen, and Kevin Jobe arrived on scene. A few minutes earlier these officers were enjoying a beautiful, peaceful, summer morning. Now they were engaged in a firefight with a heavily armed suspect seeking to kill some of the most powerful men in Congress. Four minutes would turn to five and then to six as gunfire continued to ring out. At some point the coward gave up on targeting the exposed, unarmed, sitting ducks on the ball field and began to focus on the six law enforcement officers on scene. These officers were not cowering in some corner waiting for the cavalry. No, they were the cavalry, they were the Thin Blue Line, they were the sheep dogs standing between the defenseless, vulnerable sheep and the wolf seeking their destruction.

Special Agent Griner sustained a gunshot wound to her ankle during the gunfight. According to reports Officer Battaglia was also targeted by the gunman; but by the grace of God, she was not injured. While focused on Battaglia, the guman failed to factor in the selfless courage and resolve of the other officers at the ball field. As he fired in the direction of Battaglia, the remaining officers managed to advance on this active shooter, striking him multiple times. He would later die from his wounds. Having stopped the threat, the officers immediately moved to secure the ball field while assisting with rendering first aid to those injured.

It is important to understand not simply who the intended targets were but far more importantly what they stood for. This was not simply a random attack against a group of politicians. This was an attack against the very fiber of this great nation. This was an attack against the very core of the Republic that is the United States of America. This was an attack against life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And but for the selfless courage of these six law enforcement officers this attack would very likely have been successful. As we look back on the actions of a crazed gunman that early summer morning in June, may we not forget the bravery and selflessness of six law enforcement officers who fleshed out the very epitome of what it means to be a cop.

Special Agents Crystal Griner, David Bailey, and Henry Cabrera, Officers Nicole Battaglia, Alexander Jensen, and Kevin Jobe are not professional athletes. They are not famous actors or musicians. They are not Fortune 500 CEOs or College Presidents. No, they are just ordinary men and women that for 10 harrowing minutes on an early morning in June, acted in an extraordinarily heroic way.