ORLANDO – President Donald Trump is the latest person to join the officer Mark Dallas fan club.
Trump praised the Dixon High school resource officer Monday in Orlando, Fla., for Dallas' actions during the May 16 shooting at the high school when 19-year-old student Matthew A. Milby Jr. opened fire inside the school with a 9mm semi-automatic rifle as he was heading toward the gym, which was filled with about 180 seniors rehearsing for graduation.
Just two days ago, Dallas received one of the highest honors in law enforcement when he was named Officer of the Year by the International Association of Chiefs of Police at the organization's annual conference.
Trump recognized Dallas and the three other finalists who were up for the award.
“Mark Dallas was on duty at Dixon High School in Illinois when he heard gunshots. Within, listen to this, 3 seconds he was at the scene right outside the auditorium where the entire senior class was gathered, and was in a lot of trouble. The shooter fled and fired shots at him but officer Dallas chased him down before a single student was injured,” Trump said.
“Officer Dallas’s son, Joshua, was one of the seniors inside of that auditorium. Afterwards, Joshua said, ‘I wasn’t scared for my life at all because I knew my dad would protect us.’ How good is that?”
Dallas shook hands with the president and proceeded to tell the crowd that public speaking isn't one of his talents and that he was "extremely nervous."
He has received acclaim as a hero on the local, state and national level, but he rejects that title and has said he was just doing his job to protect his students.
“My son said he wasn’t scared because dad was out there," Dallas said. "I was dad to 182 other kids in that gymnasium.”
The 50-year-old longtime Dixonite has served 24 years in law enforcement, about 15 years at the Dixon Police Department, and 4 years as school resource officer.
He led the freshmen he started with, including his 18-year-old son, Joshua, in graduation May 20.