ALEXANDRIA, Va. - It has been less than a week since the shooting attack on the Republican congressional baseball team injured House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and rocked the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria. On Monday, Alexandria's police chief and other city officials recognized their officers and public safety employees who rushed to the dangerous scene to save lives.
At a news conference on Monday, Alexandria Police Chief Michael Brown said Officer Nicole Battaglia, Officer Alexander Jensen and Officer Kevin Jobe were on scene within minutes of the first dispatch call as they put their lives on the line to stop the gunman, James Hodgkinson.
Chief Brown said when Officer Battaglia arrived, she ran towards the gunfire, eventually becoming pinned and taking shelter. This allowed the other two officers to move in while Hodgkinson's attention was focused on Battaglia.
While taking gunfire, the police chief said Jobe and Jensen were able to eventually neutralize the situation and the suspect went down - all within less than five minutes after that first dispatch call went out.
Battaglia has been on the force for a year and a half while Jensen has been with the department for two years. Officer Jobe is a 16-year veteran on the force.
Also, all of the other Fire and EMS personnel who responded to the scene were thanked and recognized for their quick and brave work in treating all of the injured, including the shooter.
After almost a week since the shooting, the city of Alexandria is ready to move on.
"I have talked to each one of the officers several times," said Chief Brown. "It always starts with, 'How are you doing?' What they went through is not something that most people go through - not in this business. We train for it all the time. They are doing fine. They are good officers, they are strong officers, they made a really good decision and I'm damn proud of them."
"To the children and their families, we are an incredibly safe, peaceful city," said Alexandria Mayor Allison Silberberg. "That night we marched, hundreds of us marched down Mount Vernon Avenue together in a walk of solidarity. This is a very special community. We love it here. Alexandria is all about community. So really as shocking as it was last week, now it's really a time of gratitude because we know how lucky we were. Because we as citizens run away from danger, there are those in public safety standing right with me and then those in the city - our officers and all our public safety team - they ran toward the danger."
"The thing that this city and the Washington region does, because of where we live, we have to be resilient, we have to bounce back because we are just saturated every day with the national and international news," said Alexandria Fire Department Capt. Brian Meckes. "It's how we have to cope with it. And with coping mechanisms, we have to teach our children today that you have to develop coping mechanisms."
City officials hoped to reintroduce the baseball field and sports complex at Eugene Simpson Stadium Park to the thousands of kids who play on it every week. However, the reopening ceremony scheduled for Monday was postponed due to weather. The ceremony is now planned for 6 p.m. Tuesday.
No Alexandria police officers were hurt during the incident.
All three officers are on administrative leave with pay pending the outcome of the investigation, which is standard procedure.