Local deputy who heroically protected school during shootout to be honored by President Obama

(Niagara County Sheriff's Deputy Joe Tortorella)

WHEATFIELD, N.Y. (WIVB) — After surviving a gunfight which stopped a gunman who had just shot his parents in the head across the street from a Niagara County elementary school, Sheriff’s Deputy Joe Tortorella will receive the Presidential Medal of Valor.

Tortorella defended the Errick Road Elementary School after responding to the fateful call just across the road. Tortorella confronted alone a gunman who had just shot both of his parents in the head, shooting him three times and surviving a shootout.

MORE | For in-depth details on how events transpired, click here. 

The gunman later took his life, but actions Tortorella took in the moments following the shooting — namely radioing for the school to be locked down immediately — earned him the title of hero, among other awards.

In January, the New York State Sheriff’s Association named Tortorella Deputy of the Year, but now Tortorella will receive an even more prestigious award, bestowed upon just  five officers nationwide each year.

The Department of Justice and U.S. Attorney General’s Office selected Tortorella as the only Sheriff’s Deputy in 2016 to receive the prestigious Presidential Medal of Valor.

Tortorella will be in Washington, D.C. on Monday to receive the award. He will meet Vice President Joe Biden, who is officially presenting the award.

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