BEAUMONT, Calif. - A police officer who was shot in the leg in the 2015 terror attack in San Bernardino received the Congressional Badge of Bravery on Thursday at a ceremony in Beaumont.
"This is a very humbling experience for me, and obviously I didn't do any of this for any recognition," Officer Nicholas Koahou said. "I didn't want to see somebody die in front of me."
Koahou was a member of the San Bernardino Police Department when he and other law enforcement officers engaged in a shootout with Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, a married couple who fatally shot 14 people and injured 22 others at the Inland Regional Center on Dec. 2, 2015.
Koahou, now an officer with the Redlands Police Department, was assigned to track the suspects as they returned to San Bernardino in the aftermath of the massacre. On Thursday, Rep. Raul Ruiz described the policeman's reaction when a sheriff's deputy was pinned down by gunfire from Farook and Malik.
"Officer Koahou witnessed this dire situation and he also saw an opening to rescue this deputy," Ruiz said. "He left his position of cover and advanced, taking fire from the suspects. His position, taken at great personal risk, removed the most serious risk from the deputy."
Koahou, a former Marine Corps officer, continued to return fire after suffering a leg wound in the exchange. The two suspects were killed in the shootout, which involved several officers and deputies.
"I wasn't the only one out there," Koahou told the audience after Ruiz hung the badge around his neck. "I had a team of warriors around me, and everybody that showed up fought just like I did.
"If that means accepting a medal on their behalf, absolutely I'll do it any day," the officer said. "Those guys are heroes, and we all got home safe. If the worst thing that happens is a bullet in my leg, I'll take it any day."