LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Several police officers from Southern California received the Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor from President Barack Obama at the White House Monday.
The president said all of the officers acted “without regard for their own safety.” Because of their courage and instincts, he said, the rest of society can go about their lives each day “like it’s any other day.”
“If they could go back in time, I suspect they’d prefer none of this had happened,” Obama said.
Santa Monica Police Department Officers Jason Salas and Robert Sparks, along with Santa Monica College Police Capt. Raymond Bottenfield were recognized for their actions during the June 7, 2013, shooting spree that began just northeast of the college and ended with a rolling gun battle on the campus.
The three officers responded to the campus and confronted the gunman in the campus library, ordered him to drop his weapon, then opened fire when the gunman pointed his assault weapon at them.
The gunman, John Zawahri, 23, was killed. Police said Bottenfield was in plain clothes and was not wearing body army when he helped confront the suspect.
Zawahri had killed his father and brother at their home near the college, then set the house on fire before making his way to the campus, where he fatally shot three more people.
The officers were honored “for courage and composure in ending a deadly rampage.”
“Officer Salas, Officer Sparks and Captain Bottenfield placed themselves in mortal danger to save the lives of students and staff during a school shooting on the busy campus of Santa Monica College,” according to the White House.