An El Paso man whose story about trying to distract a gunman during a mass shooting that left 22 dead and 26 more injured were completely made up, the El Paso Police Department said.
Earnest Christopher Grant, 50, was one of 11 people honored on Monday by President Donald Trump for his supposed actions during a mass shooting at an El Paso Walmart. Grant, who was shot twice during the incident, first told his story to CNN's Chris Cuomo about how he'd attempted to distract the gunman who opened fire by throwing soda bottles in his direction.
"I saw him popping people off," Grant told Cuomo from his hospital bed. "To deter him, I started just chucking bottles. I just started throwing random bottles at him. I’m not a baseball player, so one went this way and one went that way."
Grant's story quickly went viral and it garnered him recognition from presidential candidates, the governor, and even the White House. But, when he arrived in Washington D.C., he was arrested by the Secret Service thanks to an open warrant on his record and was reportedly a "fugitive from justice."
Still, the White House invited Grant's mother and sister in for the ceremony with Trump presenting the certification of Heroic Commendation to them.
"Chris grabbed - listen to this - soda bottles and anything else in front of him," Trump said told reporters, "and began hurling them at the gunman, distracting him from the other shoppers and causing the shooter to turn toward Chris and fire at Chris, whereby Chris suffered two very serious gunshot wounds."
Then, on Tuesday, an El Paso police spokesperson disputed Grant's story, citing video surveillance evidence taken of the incident.
“The video evidence of the scene does not support his [Grant] assertions. His actions were captured by surveillance cameras, but they amount to an act of self-preservation, nothing more, nothing less,” said police spokesman Sgt. Enrique Carrillo in a statement.
Police did not comment on what Grant actually did during the shooting, or if he had any kind of interaction with the gunman.
Grant did suffer two gunshot wounds in the incident and spent two days in a coma before waking at the hospital, his family told the Washington Post.
Grant was later released from Secret Service custody, but the status of his case is unclear at this time.
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