Washington, DC — The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) has announced the selection of Officer Eddie R. Thornton, Jr. of the United States Capitol Police as its Officer of the Month for December 2010.
On July 16th, 2009, Officer Thornton, celebrating his birthday and recent marriage took the day off from work. At approximately 7:00 pm that evening he went to visit his mother at the day care center that she owned and operated. Waiting for her son in the parking lot, Mrs. Thornton was approached by a neighbor who heard gun fire. While pulling into the lot, Officer Thornton observed a gentleman, wearing a gun belt, approaching the other side of the development. Initially he assumed the gentleman was a police officer, however, the man quickly opened fire on those in the parking lot.
Officer Thornton instructed his mother to stay in her car and ordered others in the area to take cover. Knowing his life, as well as the lives of others, was in immediate danger; he drew his service weapon and returned fire. The suspect and Officer Thornton engaged in a gunfight. The suspect was hit several times in the upper body and Officer Thornton was struck in the lower back. One stray round struck a twelve-year girl who was in her family’s apartment at the time.
Officers from the Prince George’s County (MD) Police Department arrived on the scene moments later. Both the suspect, Officer Thornton, and the young girl were treated for their wounds and transported to the hospital.
The subsequent investigation revealed there was an earlier altercation involving an off-duty military police officer and his roommate at Fort Myer. As the fight escalated, the military officer left the apartment to seek help and inadvertently left his handgun behind. His roommate took his handgun and began firing it into the parking lot. Investigators later charged him with two counts of attempted murder.
For his heroic efforts Officer Thornton received the 2010 Officer of the Year Award from the Capitol Hill Executive Service Club/National Exchange Club and the Medal of Valor from the United States Capitol Police. The nomination for the Medal of Valor states, “On this day, Officer Thornton performed an act of bravery and heroism above and beyond the call of duty in the face of an armed suspect that resulted in great bodily harm. Officer Thornton took quick, decisive police action, and risked his life to help prevent the loss of life.” Officer Eddie Thornton, Jr. has recovered from his injuries and has returned to full duty. Officer Thornton is the first officer from the United States Capitol Police to receive the Memorial Fund’s Officer of the Month Award.
Located in the nation’s capital, the NLEOMF is a nonprofit organization dedicated to honoring the service and sacrifice of America’s law enforcement officers. The NLEOMF Officer of the Month Program began in September 1996 and recognizes federal, state and local officers who distinguish themselves through exemplary law enforcement service and devotion to duty.
Officer Thornton, along with the other Officers of the Month for 2010, will be honored at a special awards luncheon in Washington, DC, in May 2011 during National Police Week. In addition, their stories of heroism and service will be featured in the Memorial Fund’s 2012 calendar.