Crystal Griner, named as one of the two heroic Capitol Police officers who saved many lives at a Congressional baseball practice in Virginia, is described as a “woman to be reckoned with.”
A former college classmate gave that description and said Griner was an athlete with a “lively presence.” Griner played college basketball for Maryland’s Hood College. Regarded as a talented athlete with a powerful determination, it’s good fortune that she was one of those assigned to protect the politicians and staffers gathered in the park on the morning of June 14. Her quick instincts, and those of fellow Capitol police officer David Bailey, may have averted a massacre of many of the nation’s leaders.
“She is amazing, and she’s a hero,” said retired Capitol Police Chief Kim Dine to CBS News. “She epitomized what being a hero’s all about.”
Griner and Bailey were honored by President Donald Trump at the White House on July 27. Griner, who is still on crutches, received the Medal of Valor from the president.
Her name was previously given as Krystal Griner, but The Washington Post has confirmed that the correct spelling is Crystal.
Griner and Special Agent Baily were at the game to protect the Congressmen present when James Hodgkinson, a disgruntled Bernie Sanders campaign volunteer from Belleville Illinois, rushed forward and starting shooting in what CNN called a “deliberate act.”
Five people, including Rep. Steve Scalise, were wounded in the attack, as were the two officers. House Speaker Paul Ryan confirmed the names of Crystal Griner and Bailey while joining a chorus in praising their heroism.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The 2 Capitol Officers Are Being Hailed as Heroes by President Trump & Others for Rushing the Gunman
Crystal Griner and Bailey saved many lives, it’s believed, when they immediately opened fire to stop the gunman. They shot him, and Hodgkinson, 66, a Republican critic and home mold inspector from Illinois, later died from his wounds.
Republican Sen. Rand Paul told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that “he heard as many as 50 shots. Paul described seeing shots land near aides who had taken cover on the ground,” according to The Hill.
As staffers tried to get away from the gunfire, the Capitol police officers acted heroically, Paul said. “Had they not been there, it would have been a massacre,” Paul, R-Ky., said to MSNBC.
“Paul credited Capitol Police, who were there to protect Scalise, with saving lives,” The Hill reported. “Griner and Bailey rushed him, despite their own wounds,” reported CBS News, which added that a third officer Henry Cabrera was also at the scene and shot at the gunman from behind a dugout.
Rep. Mike Bishop, R-Michigan, told “CBS Evening News” anchor Scott Pelley that Griner and Bailey “rushed onto the field as the congressmen and staffers fled.” CBS quoted him as saying, “The problem is that he’s got a rifle and they’ve got handguns, and it’s not a fair fight at that point in time. They knew they weren’t going to probably hit him. They just were trying to give us cover.”
“A woman walking her dog said she heard a female officer scream, ‘Drop your weapon,’ before the gunman ‘shot her and she fell to the ground,'” The Washington Post reported. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told the Post the officers “went out into the fire to draw the fire. The shooter was moving toward the dugout where the members were, and they were able to take him down.”
Others also said it could have been a massacre if Griner and Bailey hadn’t acted as they did. Scalise credited the Capitol police heroics in a statement released by his office before he went into surgery. He is now in critical condition after coming out of surgery.
“Prior to entering surgery, the Whip was in good spirits and spoke to his wife by phone,” Scalise’s office said in a statement. “He is grateful for the brave actions of U.S. Capitol Police, first responders, and colleagues.”
President Trump released a statement that also praised Griner and Bailey. “Many lives would have been lost if not for the heroic actions of the two Capitol Police officers who took down the gunman despite sustaining gunshot wounds during a very, very brutal assault,” Trump said.
On social media, many people thanked the officers for their heroism.
You can read more about all of the victims here:
2. Griner Graduated From Hood College, Where She Was a ‘Ferocious Athlete’
Hood College, in Frederick, Maryland, confirmed that Griner was a graduate of that school.
“Crystal Griner, Hood Class of 2006, has been identified as one of the two heroic Capitol Police officers who are credited with saving lives when they shot the gunman at a Congressional baseball practice in Virginia. Our thoughts are with all those injured and especially Crystal and her family,” Hood College wrote on Facebook.
A former classmate noted that Griner was an athlete in college. Griner is listed by Hood athletics as a basketball player who stood 5 foot 9 inches tall and was from Ellicott City, Maryland. As a freshman, she was fourth in team scoring.
Here is a full length photo of Griner:
“My Hood College classmate, Crystal Griner, was one of the heroic Capitol Police officers who returned fire and disabled the Congressional Baseball game shooter even though she was herself wounded. She was a woman to be reckoned with at Hood: an amazing athlete and a lively presence. 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!” she wrote on Facebook.
The classmate told Heavy in an interview, “Crystal played basketball for Hood and she was a really talented player. I lived on a dorm floor that was student-run by and for athletes at Hood. I don’t remember if she lived on that floor or if she lived in the dorm next door, but she hung out a lot with all the athletes who lived there.” She added, “Crystal was a ferocious athlete. I can absolutely see that side of her coming out in the situation she found herself in at the Congressional baseball game.”
The classmate believes that Griner’s athletic ability probably was important on June 14.
“Crystal was a ferocious athlete. I can absolutely see that side of her coming out in the situation she found herself in at the Congressional baseball game,” she told Heavy.
Five people were injured overall, and both Crystal Griner and David Bailey were injured by the gunman. Griner was shot. Neither suffered life-threatening wounds. In the end, only the shooter died in the rampage.
Despite being wounded themselves, the officers were able to neutralize the gunman. “We are, as ever, awed by the tremendous bravery of the Capitol Police,” Speaker Ryan said in a statement, according to NBC News.
He also said, “I expressed our profound gratitude to them. It is clear to me, based on various eyewitness accounts that without these two heroes — Agent Bailey and Agent Griner — many lives would have been lost.”
Griner doesn’t have a social media presence, so less is known about her. This post will be updated as more is learned. Bailey outlined his biography on LinkedIn. Heavy has requested a photo of Griner from Capitol police as there is not one available online.
Bailey has worked as a United States Capitol Police Officer for over 9 years, according to LinkedIn. His page says he is, “responsible for the protection of Members of Congress, Officers of Congress, and their families as expanded by statute to the entire United States, its territories and possessions, and the District of Columbia.”
His LinkedIn page also reveals that Bailey was an administrator at the US Fish and Wildlife Service in Falls Church, Virginia, from 2005 to 2008.
3. Griner Was a National Honor Society Member in High School & a Biology Major in College
Griner’s long list of accomplishments date back to her high school years. According to a biography provided to Heavy by Hood College, Crystal Josephine Griner majored in biology.
She was “in the upper echelon” of new players her sophomore year and was regarded for her “strength and athletic ability.” She earned rookie of the year honors for basketball in 2003.
Griner graduated from Mount Hebron High School, where she played varsity basketball and varsity softball and led her basketball team to the Howard County championship in 2002. She made First Team All-County for softball in 2001 and received the Coach’s Award in basketball and MVP in softball in 2001. The team won an AAU National Championship with the Baltimore Cougars.
Griner was on the honor roll all years she attended Mount Hebron and was a member of the National Honor Society, French Clun, Spanish Club and Quad-A.
In contrast to Griner’s positive outlook and long list of achievements, the gunman was progressively souring over the political system and not hesitant to express his rage.
The gunman, James T. Hodgkinson, also appears to have had a political motive from his prolific posts on social meddia.
Hodgkinson filled his Facebook pages with political posts, lauding Democrat Bernie Sanders and trashing President Donald Trump in incendiary terms.
One example of many: On March 22 he wrote, “Trump is a Traitor. Trump Has Destroyed Our Democracy. It’s Time to Destroy Trump & Co.” He also wrote, “I Want to Say Mr. President, for being an ass hole you are Truly the Biggest Ass Hole We Have Ever Had in the Oval Office.”
On June 12, he wrote, “Make America Great Again, Resign!,” along with a meme of Trump with the words, “All in all it’s just another prick in the wall.” He also wrote, “Trump is Guilty & Should Go to Prison for Treason” and “Trump is a Mean, Disgusting Person.”
Bernie Sanders’ photo was the shooter’s cover picture. The Vermont senator has condemned the attack and acknowledged that the shooter was a campaign volunteer for him.
4. The President & First Lady Visited Griner & Griner’s Wife in the Hospital & Brought a Bouquet of Flowers
Griner is married. According to a White House pool report, President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump visited Griner and her wife in the hospital after the shooting. They brought along bouquets of white flowers for Rep. Scalise and for Griner.
Crystal Griner married Tiffany Dyar in Baltimore, Maryland in 2015.
Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, also visited Griner and Scalise. Griner was shot in the ankle.
The baseball practice was filled with politicians, including Sen. Rand Paul, Scalise and other Congressmen. As a result, the Capitol police assigned the two officers as protection, a move that looks especially wise after the shooting. Specifically, they were there, though, as a security detail for Scalise because he is a member of House Leadership.
“Scalise — as the third most-powerful member of the House — always has Capitol Police with him as security detail,” reported NBC News.
The shooting unfolded in the early morning hours of June 14. A comment the gunman made to Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis right before the mass shooting may indicate a political motive. DeSantis told Fox News that, right before the shooting, a man approached him and asked whether Republicans or Democrats were practicing.
The officers opened fire on the suspect when they saw him turn a rifle on those at the practice. He also shot them.
According to the Hill, “Two Capitol Police officers on protective detail were also reportedly shot in the incident.”
“There were a number of congressmen and congressional staffers lying on the ground, and at least one of them was wounded,” CNN reported.
5. Griner & Bailey Reacted Rapidly, Confronting the Shooter & Likely Saving Countless Lives
If it weren’t for the actions of the quick-thinking officers, more could have been injured or even killed.
Scalise, the House Majority Whip, was shot in the hip, according to Fox News.
The others wounded in the shooting were Matt Mika, a lobbyist and Zack Barth, a Congressional staffer. The gunman was killed.
Rep. Mo Brooks used a tourniquet to stop Scalise’ bleeding, reported Fox. Scalise was initially listed in stable condition at the hospital, according to WJLA. However, after surgery he was listed in critical condition.
Scalise is the first member of Congress to be shot since Arizona Democrat Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head at an event in a Tuscon shooting in 2011.