Jason Salas and Robert Sparks - Photo courtesy SurfSantaMonica.com
Jason Salas and Robert Sparks – Photo courtesy SurfSantaMonica.com

By DONNA BALANCIA – The Medal of Valor was awarded to four Southern California police officers, who were among 13 officers recognized by President Barack Obama during a White House ceremony today.

Donald Thompson of the Los Angeles Police Department, was recognized for rescuing a 72-year-old man from a burning car that crashed on the 405 in Sherman Oaks in 2013.

Jason Salas and Robert Sparks of the Santa Monica Police Department, and Capt. Raymond Bottenfield, of Santa Monica College Police Department, were awarded for their brave work during the deadly June 7, 2013, shooting spree that ended on the grounds of Santa Monica College.

Other recipients, included:

• Officer Mario Gutierrez of the Miami-Dade Police Department in Florida, who was stabbed multiple times while subduing a man who attempted to set a gas station on fire.

• Patrolman Louis Cioci, of Johnson City Police Department in New York, who apprehended a gunman at a crowded hospital after the gunman murdered a fellow officer.

• Major David Huff, of Midwest City Police Department in Oklahoma, who saved a 2-year-old girl who was being held at knife point in a hostage situation.

• Officer Coral Walker, of the Omaha Police Department in Nebraska, who single-handedly incapacitated an active shooter, who had killed and injured multiple people.

• Officer Gregory Stevens, of Garland Police Department in Texas, who prevented a mass shooting by subduing two armed shooters by exchanging gunfire with them at close range.

• Sergeant Robert Wilson III, of Philadelphia Police Department, who died while protecting employees and customers during an armed robbery.

• Officer Niel Johnson, of North Miami Police Department in Florida, who apprehended a suspect who had shot a Miami police officer and two others, ending a violent crime spree.

• Special Agent Tyler Call, of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who was off-duty when he saved a woman who was being held at gunpoint by her ex-husband.

• Deputy Joey Tortorella, of the Niagara County Sheriff’s Department in New York, subdued a gunman who shot his parents, preventing the gunman from threatening the safety of students at a nearby elementary school.