Wearing a dark suit and blue tie, President Obama called this one of his "favorite events all year."
The President honored more than 40 law enforcement officials, including Lt. Brian Murphy, who was one of First Lady Michelle Obama's guests at the State of the Union earlier this year.
Murphy was the first officer on the scene on Aug. 5, 2012, when Wade Michael Page, a white supremacist, went on a shooting rampage at the gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.
“I already talked about one of this year’s Top Cops, Brian Murphy, in my State of the Union address,” Obama said. “When a gunman opened fire on a temple in Wisconsin and Brian was the first to arrive, he did not consider his own safety.
“He fought back until help arrived and ordered his fellow officers, who are here today, to protect the safety of the Americans worshiping inside - even though he was lying there bleeding from (15) bullet wounds.
“When he was asked how he did it, he said, “That’s just the way we’re made.””
Murphy was joined by officers Savan “Sam” Lenda, John H. Finco, Julie M. Grauberger, Dean Kleinhans, Michael Shultz, Derick Slamka and Kelly Romel from the Oak Creek Police Department. All were honored at the East Room of the White House, on May 11.
According to an account by the police association, Murphy was the first to respond to a 911 call of shots fired at the gurdwara. When he arrived on the scene, he called for an ambulance for the two dead victims he found in the parking lot. He radioed back that could not see the shooter.
Seconds later, the armed suspect exited the gurdwara’s main doors. Murphy raised his gun and ordered him to stop. The man responded by sprinting towards Murphy, while firing shots.
Shot in the face, Murphy took cover behind a vehicle. The suspect continued running towards the injured officer, shooting as he closed the distance between them.
The suspect then came around the front of the vehicle and shot directly down on Murphy. Murphy’s hands were shot and lost his gun. That is when Officer Savan (Sam) Lenda arrived on the scene.
Lenda armed himself with his squad rifle and pulled his car up to the shooter, forcing the suspect to confront him. The gunman stopped shooting Murphy and started shooting at Lenda. Without hesitation, Lenda fired his rifle and wounded the man. The suspect then took his own life with a bullet to the head.
“Lenda’s actions saved Murphy from further attacks and possible death,” the association said. “He also ended the threat as quickly as possible without further injury to citizens and other officers arriving on the scene.”
The officers found Lt. Murphy waiving them into the temple to help other possible victims, despite his own injuries. Later they found a total of 27 shell casings around the area where he was shot.
The officers proceeded to secure the scene as Lt. Murphy was sent to a hospital.
Page had killed six members of the sangat, and wounded two others.
In his most political statement of the event, Obama said leaders needed to focus on "making it harder for dangerous criminals to get their hands on lethal weapons."
He then concluded his remarks, making a direct appeal to all Americans.
"Let them know how much you appreciate it," he said. "It's the least we can do."