RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — One of the U.S. Capitol Police officers injured while defending members of Congress during a shooting at a baseball field is a gregarious gym-goer and hard worker who adores his mother, his friends say. The other is a high-achieving former college athlete who a former boss says “exudes confidence and dedication.”
Special Agents David Bailey and Crystal Griner, along with their colleague Henry Cabrera, who was not injured, are being hailed as heroes for their response to the gunman who opened fire Wednesday during a congressional baseball team practice in Alexandria. The attack left three others, including U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, injured, but authorities and lawmakers who were at the park say the officers’ valor prevented what could have been a far worse tragedy.
“They ran right into the fire. They ran right into those guns and the bullets, and they saved a lot of lives,” President Donald Trump said of Griner and Bailey at a news conference Thursday.
Bailey graduated from North Carolina Central University in Durham with a physical education degree in 2007, the university said in a statement. Casey Adams Jones met Bailey while he was a student there and said in an interview Thursday that they’ve become close friends in the 10 years since.
“I’m just glad the public gets to see the hero I’ve always known,” she said.
Adams Jones said Bailey always had a passion for law enforcement and was proud to join the Capitol Police force about eight years ago.
Bailey loves traveling, going to the gym and putting Heinz ketchup on everything, Adams Jones and fraternity brother Leonardo Williams said. Both also said he adored his mother, whom he helped care for after a recent surgery, according to Adams Jones.
“He’s going to always look out for people, protect people and do what he can do to make things easier for people. It was not out of the ordinary for him to do what he did yesterday, no way,” said Priscilla Lewis of Durham, who said she’s like a godmother to Bailey.
Bailey was not shot but was treated for a minor injury and has been released from a hospital.
Griner, who was shot in the ankle, was also released from a hospital where she and her wife were visited Wednesday night by the president and first lady Melania Trump, who brought them a bouquet of flowers, according to a White House pool report.
Hood College in Frederick, Maryland, said Griner was a 2006 graduate. A biology major, Griner was a guard on the college basketball team and earned rookie of the year honors in 2003, according to a player profile provided by the school.
“We are proud of Crystal Griner … for her heroic actions and dedicated service. While I wasn’t here when Crystal was a student, those who knew her describe her as highly engaged and personable, a high achiever both in the classroom and on the court,” college President Andrea Chapdelaine said in a statement.
Kim Dine, who retired last year as chief of the Capitol Police, said he remembered Griner as someone who “exudes confidence and dedication.”
“She always struck me as incredibly focused, diligent and professional and ready to meet the mission,” he said, adding that the officers’ response Wednesday was “brilliant and brave.”
Less was known about Cabrera or his role in the shooting. Neither he nor relatives could immediately be reached by The Associated Press.
Rep. Roger Williams, a Texas Republican who witnessed the shooting and whose legislative aide was shot, said he and his family will be “forever grateful” that the officers prevented what could have easily been 25 deaths or more.
“We saw two people risk their lives to save the lives of others,” Williams said. “We saw courage in the face of death, and we saw examples of why all Americans should be grateful every day for law enforcement officers around this country.”
Associated Press writers Kasey Jones in Baltimore and Brian Witte in Annapolis, Maryland, contributed to this report.