Steve Penley’s Portrait Acknowledges Nashville Police Who Responded To The Massacre At Covenant School

At the 2023 FOX Nation Patriot Awards, five police officers from the Metro Nashville Police Department were recognised for their efforts to save other people following a school shooting and immortalised in a picture by American painter Steve Penley.

Steve Penley's Portrait Acknowledges Nashville Police Who Responded To The Massacre At Covenant School

The inaugural T2T Stephen Siller Award was given to Det. Michael Collazo, Officer Rex Engelbert, Det. Sgt. Jeff Mathes, Det. Ryan Cagle, and Det. Zachary Plese in recognition of their valiant response to the Nashville school massacre earlier this year.

Frank Siller presented the award, which is named in memory of firefighter Stephen Siller, who lost his life in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, alongside co-hosts of “FOX & Friends” Steve Doocy, Ainsley Earhardt, Brian Kilmeade, and Lawrence Jones.

Frank presented the honour to the Nashville police with the assistance of his nephew, Stephen Siller, Jr. Twenty-two years ago, while Stephen was still a baby, his father raced to the Twin Towers site.

“Tonight we are here not to dwell on tragedy, but to honour the men and women who turned towards danger to safeguard others, embodying the spirit of my father, Stephen, and the soul of the Tunnel to Towers Foundation,” said Stephen Siller, Jr.

Police were called to the Covenant School on March 27, 2023, after Audrey Elizabeth Hale started firing at the kids and faculty. Following the massacre, which left three 9-year-olds and three adults dead, the neighbourhood was left in shock.

“That choice was—that choice wasn’t a choice. On behalf of the other police, Det. Sgt. Jeff Mathes stated that it was what was expected to occur.

Before 10:30 a.m., law officers had fatally shot Hale on the second story of the school building, save numerous lives in the process.

“I’ve been thinking about what the term or the word patriot means since I found out about this, and the only thing — I can’t think of a definition — but I can think of people from times all the way across our history as a nation,” Mathes continued.

“On behalf of the Metro Nashville Police Department, there are patriots that I’ll accept this for, but patriots like our friend and detective on our team — Eric Wegner — he ran outside and was the stimulus of getting shot. He got shot at, and that’s what we needed to find what we needed and the work that we needed to do. So being a patriot is going for others, respecting each other, respecting your country and most importantly, putting your God first.”

Additionally, the five Nashville police officers received a portrait by Steve Penley as a token of appreciation.

“I’ve made a career out of painting American icons and heroes, and you guys fit right into that story, so I’m proud to be here and honored to be a part of it,” Penley said.

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