In his first interview since the violent Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol, Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman discussed his own experience as people stormed the building and reflected on life following the harrowing events.
“It could have easily been a bloodbath so kudos to everybody there that showed a measure of restraint with regards to deadly force,” Goodman, an Army veteran who served in Iraq, said on an episode of the “3 Brothers No Sense” podcast.
Goodman led a group of rioters away from the entrance to the Senate chamber, where lawmakers and staff had been sheltered, giving backup enough time to arrive. His actions were recorded on a HuffPost video. The Senate later voted unanimously to award Goodman the Congressional Gold Medal, the institution’s highest honor.
Goodman said he didn’t know how far rioters had advanced into the Capitol building when he ran to confront them after telling Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) to get to safety.
“Oh hell, they’re actually in the building,” Goodman said he remembered thinking at the time. “I honestly didn’t know they were that far in the building. They lock eyes on me right away, just like that, I was in it,” he added, crediting his Army training that taught him to “think on the fly.”
Goodman says he has struggled with fame in the days following the attack, refraining from participating in interviews because of negative encounters with the public experienced by other Capitol Police officers who have been vocal about Jan. 6.
“I have my ups and downs with the popularity ... Unfortunately, with the popularity, you have to take the bad with the good,” Goodman said on the podcast.
He called proposals floated by some admirers on Twitter to create an honorary “Eugene Goodman Day” as “way too much.” He also declined the suggestion that officials erect a bronze statue of himself on the Capitol grounds.
“That’s just one more thing for a bird to prop up and take a dump on me,” Goodman said, chuckling.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.