U.S. President Donald Trump personally applauded Christopher Grant at the White House on Monday, calling him a “hero” for throwing bottles at the gunman who killed 22 people at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas.
“Chris grabbed — listen to this — soda bottles and anything else in front of him, and began hurling them at the gunman, distracting him from the other shoppers,” Trump said during a ceremony to celebrate several heroes who acted in two recent mass shootings. He said Grant’s actions caused the shooter to fire at him, “whereby Chris suffered two very serious gunshot wounds.”
It turns out the bullet wounds were real but the story was fake, according to officials with the El Paso Police Department.
The president and his staff appear to have fallen for a made-up story Grant told CNN last month, which authorities say does not match security camera footage of the actual shooting.
Grant told his seemingly tall tale to CNN’s Chris Cuomo at a hospital in El Paso on Aug. 5, where he was recovering from bullet wounds. Grant was among the 24 people injured in the shooting. Another 22 people were killed.
“I did what any good man would have done,” he said. “I heard gunshots and knew what it was, so I ran toward my mother to try to shield her,” he said.
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Grant claimed that he helped his mother get to safety, then decided to slow the shooter down.
“I saw him popping people off, so to deter him, I started chucking bottles,” he said. “I just started throwing bottles at him.”
Police say Grant did nothing more than hide during the shooting.
The White House did not contact police before including Grant in a lineup of mass-shooting “heroes” for the ceremony on Monday, Carillo told the Washington Examiner.
“We’ve never had anything like this happen. Never had a victim’s report so skewed from what actually happened,” Sgt. Robert Gomez told KVIA.
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Grant went to the White House for the ceremony on Monday, but the Secret Service detained him on an open arrest warrant as a “fugitive from justice,” KVIA reports.
Grant’s mother accepted a certificate of Heroic Commendations from Trump on her son’s behalf.
Grant was released later on Monday. No charges have been announced.
He declined to speak to the Washington Post about the incident.
“We saw his actions and it’s not like he described,” Carillo told KVIA. “What he said is not truthful.”