He went viral for saving the Senate, but Army vet Eugene Goodman ‘was a hero long before’

The Black police officer who went viral for his bravery in distracting the angry Donald Trump mob that took over the Capitol is being rightfully called a hero, not just by Americans nationwide but representatives in Congress. Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman lured a group of rioters away from the Senate chamber’s entrance to protect members of Congress on Jan. 6.  As a result, Reps. Charlie Crist of Florida, Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri, and Nancy Mace of South Carolina introduced a bill Thursday to award Goodman the Congressional Gold Medal for “bravery and quick thinking during last week’s insurrection at the United States Capitol."

Since the horrific Capitol riots, many have criticized the lack of security in the building and Capitol Police leadership for its lack of preparation, resulting in the resignation of the Capitol Police’s chief. But amid all the criticisms for Capitol Police comes praise for Goodman and his quick thinking. The award several lawmakers hope to give Goodman is considered one of the highest civilian awards in the country.

"The United States Capitol was under attack by armed, violent extremists, and Officer Eugene Goodman was the only thing standing between the mob and the United States Senate," Crist said in a statement, according to Business Insider.

"I shudder to think what might have happened had it not been for Officer Goodman's fast thinking and commitment to his duty and his country," he continued. "While some will remember last Wednesday for the very worst in our country, the patriotism and heroics of Officer Eugene Goodman renew my faith and remind us all what truly makes the United States great."

The footage of Goodman’s selfless bravery went viral after being shared by HuffPost reporter Igor Bobic on Twitter. Daily Kos shared the footage and reported that the incident happened at 2:14 PM. The Senate was closed mere seconds later at 2:15 PM “Just now realizing how much of a close call it was in the Senate,” Bobic tweeted.

Here’s the scary moment when protesters initially got into the building from the first floor and made their way outside Senate chamber. pic.twitter.com/CfVIBsgywK

— Igor Bobic (@igorbobic) January 6, 2021

This moment in ⁦@igorbobic⁩ stunning footage. In front of the officer, coming up the stairs, is a mass of rioters. The USCP officer glances to his left. Between those two chairs is the entrance to the senate floor. He lured them to his right, away from their targets. pic.twitter.com/knjQQ4GZ0d

— Kristin Wilson (@kristin__wilson) January 10, 2021

Bobic told Good Morning America on Thursday he was covering Congress as they were certifying electoral votes from the presidential election when he heard “a commotion.”

"I ran downstairs to the first floor of the Senate building, where I encountered this lone police officer courageously making a stand against the mob of 20 or so Trump supporters who breached the capitol itself and were trying to get upstairs,” Bobic said.

In the footage Bobic shared, Goodman wasn’t wearing tactical gear nor did he have his gun out. Yet he shoved the mob leader, identified as Doug Jenson of Iowa, before running to grab a baton. At least 20 or more people can then be seen chasing the lone officer, who diverted them away from the Senate chamber. “They were yelling ‘Traitors. We want justice. This is our America. If we don’t stop this now, we won’t get justice. Trump won,’” Bobic told Good Morning America.

“These folks had zip ties,” Kirk D. Burkhalter, a professor at New York Law School and a former New York City police officer, told The Washington Post, referring to photos of rioters with zip tie handcuffs. “It’s not unreasonable to say that they were ready to take hostages ... Officer Goodman really helped to avoid a tremendous tragedy.”

After the footage went viral, colleagues and friends identified Goodman. "He'd do the same thing again,” a friend told The Washington Post, noting that Goodman is "not looking for any accolades."

Officials from the 101st Airborne Division also took to Twitter to praise Goodman, noting that he was a hero to the country years before last week.

According to the Military Times, Goodman served in the Army from 2002 and 2006 and deployed to Iraq for one year with the 101st Airborne Division. His awards include a combat infantryman badge.

Capitol police officer Eugene Goodman is rightfully being hailed as a hero after singlehandedly holding back rioters from entering the Senate chambers last week. An Iraq combat vet and member of this Corps, Eugene was a hero long before last Wednesday. We celebrate his valor. pic.twitter.com/CLWlLG3bIW

— XVIII Airborne Corps (@18airbornecorps) January 14, 2021

Other friends of Goodman told the Post that his decision to lead the rioters away instead of engaging with them reflects his military experience.

“He was diverting people from getting on the Senate floor and getting hostages. It was the smartest thing that he could have ever done,” a colleague said. “I don’t know that many people who can think on their feet like that ... His quick thinking enabled those senators to get to safety.”

Goodman’s ability to not only lead the rioters away from the Senate Chambers but call for backup and show restraint to prevent injury or loss of life pays tribute to his dedication to service and his heroic qualities. Despite his newfound fame, Goodman has remained humble and maintained the same positive attitude, his colleagues told the Post. 

Goodman’s attitude toward his job has remained the same despite his newfound fame.

“My job is to protect and serve,” Goodman told co-workers after the video of him went viral. “And on that day, I was protecting.”

Friday, Jan 15, 2021 · 2:52:43 PM +00:00 · Aysha Qamar

Newly shared terrifying footage from the other side:

Wow. First time I’m seeing video *taken by one of the first rioters* to breach the Capitol and storm up the Senate steps. I actually recorded him as he was recording me on the first floor. “Where are they counting the votes?” one is heard shouting https://t.co/6uvvBznma0

— Igor Bobic (@igorbobic) January 15, 2021