Sgt. Robert F. Wilson III, the Philly cop slain during an attempted robbery last year, was awarded the nation's highest law enforcement medal by President Barack Obama at a White House ceremony Monday.
“We honor those who didn’t come home, including one here that we honor posthumously today, Sgt Robert Wilson III,” Obama said in presenting the national Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor to Wilson and 12 others.
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The president became visibly emotional recounting the circumstances of Wilson’s murder, allegedly at the hands of two would-be armed robbers who stormed into a GameStop while Wilson was inside, on-duty and in uniform.
“He gave his life when two men opened fire at a video game store where Sgt. Wilson was buying his son a birthday present,” Obama said, voice choked with emotion.
“To his family, who's here, his grandmother Constance, his brother and sister, please know how deeply sorry we are for your loss, and how grateful we are for Sgt. Wilson’s service,” Obama said.
Constance Wilson, who wore a Jehovah’s Witness button on her lapel, accepted the medal from the president, who bowed his head and whispered to her as he presented the award.
Wilson, 30, a 22nd District officer, was slain on March 5, 2015, inside a GameStop at 21st and Lehigh when two armed men entered intending to rob the store, not knowing a uniformed police officer was inside.
Wilson reportedly moved toward the two suspects, brothers Carlton Hipps and Ramone Williams, drawing their attention away from customers and employees, and told them to stand down, before both opened fire, shooting Wilson from both sides and striking him in the head.
“I've been in policing for 46 years, I have never witnessed an act of bravery like what I saw that day,” former Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said at Wilson's funeral, describing surveillance video of the shoot-out.
Williams and Hipps allegedly fled the store and fired at Wilson's partner Damien Stevenson, who was in a car outside.
Stevenson shot Hipps in the leg and arrested him, according to police. Williams fled back into the GameStop and feigned that he was a customer, but was arrested after being identified by other customers as one of the shooters.
Some 50 shots were fired in the two gun fights, which lasted 30 to 40 seconds, police said.
Hipps and Williams are facing murder charges.