Sgt. Robert Wilson III has been credited with saving the lives of several people, while sacrificing his own, when he got caught in the middle of a robbery. Now, he’s been rewarded posthumously with the Medal of Valor.
It was March 5, 2015, and Wilson and his partner on the Philadelphia police force were on patrol doing security checks. Wilson went into a North Philadelphia GameStop video game store to check it out and buy a birthday gift for his eldest son. At least five other patrons and two employees were inside. Then, two armed men entered the store.
Wilson confronted the men, and they started shooting. Police later said 50 shots were fired in about 30 seconds. Wilson was struck multiple times, including once in the head. It was that shot that ultimately killed him.
Philadelphia police said the two gunmen were brothers who then tried to run from the store. But Wilson’s partner, Officer Damien Stevenson, was still outside in the patrol car, and he pursued the men and engaged them in a gunbattle. One brother was wounded, according to police, but the other went back into the GameStop and again exchanged fire with Wilson.
Both men were arrested and charged with murder.
Wilson, 30, was one of 13 officers to whom President Obama awarded the Medal of Valor last week at the White House. Constance Wilson, his emotional grandmother, accepted the honor on his behalf.
Constance Wilson had raised her grandson since he was 2 years old. She says he joined the police force to “save and protect,” and “he followed through all the way on that,” serving on the force for eight years.
Wilson stepped away from others in the store to keep them out of the crossfire, police said after watching security camera footage. Constance Wilson isn’t surprised by her grandson’s actions.
“He’d do the same thing for us here as a family. That’s Robbie,” she said. “He made sure they didn’t get hurt. He fought, like I said, right down to the last.”
Constance Wilson said the invitation to the White House wasn’t something she expected.
“It was a privilege, a joy. It was outstanding to be sitting there in the front row,” she said of the experience.
She said she was consumed with tears when Obama presented her with the medal, but she remembered that he said to her, “I know you’re proud of your grandson.” Obama added that he was proud, too.
Wilson, who left behind two sons, was also posthumously promoted to sergeant.
“I would very much want him to be here right now,” Constance Wilson said of her grandson. “I would love for him to be here with me, so I can hug him and kiss him. I was always hugging and kissing him anyway when he came around, and I miss that. I really do.”