GOP House Whip Steve Scalise in critical condition after shooting at baseball practice

 

Rep. Steve Scalise, a congressional staffer, a lobbyist and a member of the Capitol police force were shot Wednesday in Alexandria, Virginia, during Republicans’ early-morning practice ahead of a charity baseball game.

Rep. Steve Scalise was shot June 14, 2017 in Alexandria, Virginia, a House colleague told CNN, in what sources are calling an apparent “deliberate attack.”

Federal law enforcement officials identified the alleged shooter as James Hodgkinson, 66, of Belleville, Illinois, who died following a shootout with authorities.

At least six people including Scalise, the third ranking member of House Republican leadership as the majority whip, were hospitalized.

At 8:15 p.m. MedStar Washington Hospital Center released a statement about Rep. Scalise’s condition:

Congressman Steve Scalise sustained a single rifle shot to the left hip. The bullet traveled across his pelvis, fracturing bones, injuring internal organs, and causing severe bleeding. He was transported in shock to MedStar Washington Hospital Center, a Level I Trauma Center.  He underwent immediate surgery, and an additional procedure to stop bleeding.  He has received multiple units of blood transfusion. His condition is critical, and he will require additional operations. We will provide periodic updates.

A congressional staffer, Zach Barth, was also shot in the leg and has since been released from the hospital. Matt Mika, a lobbyist for Tyson Foods and former congressional staffer, was also identified as one of those shot. He was out of surgery and in critical condition as of Wednesday afternoon, according to a statement from his family.

House Speaker Paul Ryan identified two members of the Capitol Police who were injured as Crystal Griner and David Bailey. In a statement, Capitol Police said Griner was in “good condition in the hospital having been shot in the ankle,” and Bailey “was treated and released having sustained a minor injury during the incident.”

Rep. Roger Williams, a Texas Republican whom Barth works for, was also hospitalized and released with an injury to his leg.

Lawmakers who were there described a chaotic scene, with many members of the congressional GOP baseball team huddled in a dugout while Capitol police who were part of Scalise’s security detail and local Alexandria police engaged in a shootout with Hodgkinson. Congressional and law enforcement sources described it as a “deliberate attack.”

Traces are still being done on the two firearms recovered at the scene — an SKS rifle 7.62 (which is a Chinese-made AK variant) and a 9 mm pistol, a law enforcement source tells CNN.

Later, House Republican and Democratic leaders called for unity, while President Donald Trump said in an address from the White House that the prayers of the nation and world are with Scalise.

"Congressman Scalise is a friend, and a very good friend," Trump said. "He's a patriot. And he's a fighter. He will recover from this assault -- and Steve, I want you to know that you have the prayers not only of the entire city behind you, but of an entire nation, and frankly the entire world. America is praying for you and America is praying for all of the victims of this terrible shooting."

Ryan condemned the shooting and praised the Capitol Police on the House floor later Wednesday.

"We are united. We are united in our shock. We are united in our anguish. An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us," Ryan said, drawing a bipartisan standing ovation.

Members practicing for traditional baseball game

Members of Congress were practicing for a game that was scheduled for Thursday night at Nationals Park. Rep. Martha McSally, R-Arizona, said the game will still go on as scheduled. The annual game has been played since 1909, and McSally said lawmakers applauded the announcement at an all-members meeting.

Rep. Joe Barton, who manages the Republican team, said at a news conference that the game has added the Fallen Officers Fund as a charity it's sponsoring.

Rep. Mike Doyle, who manages the Democratic team, said at the same conference that they would like to host the entire Republican team at the Democratic club for dinner to reflect Wednesday night. "Some of them have probably never set foot in that building," he joked.

Lawmakers describe a terrifying scene

Lawmakers who spoke at the scene to reporters described a normal morning practice, at a field where they've practiced for years, when suddenly shots rang out. Lawmakers, staff members and even the young son of one of the members ran for cover, jumping into dugouts and over fences to avoid the gunshots.

Alleged shooter James Hodgkinson shot Rep. Steve Scalise and members of the Capitol police force in Alexandria, Virginia, during Republicans' early-morning practice ahead of a charity baseball game on June 14, 2017.

Members described Scalise dragging himself roughly 15 yards away from second base, where he had been playing, and lying there until the shooter was neutralized, at which point some of them ran to assist him and apply pressure to the wound until he could be evacuated. Once they were able, Sen. Jeff Flake said he and Rep. Brad Wenstrup, who is a physician, went to where Scalise was lying to apply pressure to the wound. Scalise was coherent the whole time, Flake said.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul told CNN "it would have been a massacre" without the Capitol Hill Police officers present.

"Nobody would have survived without the Capitol Hill police," Paul said on CNN. "It would have been a massacre without them."

"We had nothing but baseball bats to fight back against a rifle with," Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks said.

Flake added that he saw a member of Scalise's security detail return fire on the gunman for what felt like 10 minutes, even though the police officer was wounded in the leg.

"Fifty (shots) would be an understatement, I'm quite sure," Flake said when asked about the total amount of gunfire, including police returning fire.

Brooks said the shooter was behind the third base dugout and didn't say anything.

"The gun was a semiautomatic," Brooks said, adding that he was sure it was a rifle but unsure what kind. "It continued to fire at different people. You can imagine, all the people on the field scatter."

Shooter identified

Hodgkinson's Facebook page is largely political, his profile picture is a caricature of Bernie Sanders as Uncle Sam.

The Facebook feed is filled with anti-Trump sentiments such as "Trump is guilty and should go to prison for treason."

He also "liked" a political cartoon that suggested Scalise should be fired. On March 22, he posted "Trump is a Traitor. Trump Has Destroyed Our Democracy. It's Time to Destroy Trump & Co."

Shooter identified as James T. Hodgkinson of Illinois. He has reportedly died from his injuries.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said both in a statement and on the Senate floor that he had learned the shooter volunteered on his presidential campaign -- and that he condemned the shooting "in the strongest possible terms."

"I have just been informed that the alleged shooter at the Republican baseball practice is someone who apparently volunteered on my presidential campaign," Sanders said.

"I am sickened by this despicable act. Let me be as clear as I can be. Violence of any kind is unacceptable in our society and I condemn this action in the strongest possible terms," he said. "Real change can only come about through nonviolent action, and anything else runs against our most deeply held American values."

Capitol Hill increases security, cancels events

The news of the shooting reverberated on Capitol Hill, where security was increased and regular proceedings were canceled or postponed.

He also said he'd seen an image of members of the Democratic congressional baseball team huddled in prayer after learning of the shooting.

"Every day we come here to test and to challenge each other. We feel so deeply about the things that we fight for and the things that we believe in. At times, our emotions can clearly get the best of us. We are all imperfect. But we do not shed our humanity when we enter this chamber. For all the noise and all the fury, we are one family," Ryan said.

The House decided to not hold any votes on legislation Wednesday, and many hearings were delayed. The House Natural Resources Federal Lands Subcommittee also canceled a scheduled meeting to debate gun legislation.

Capitol Hill Police notified congressional offices that the security presence on the Hill would be increased "out of an abundance of caution."

Members of Congress targeted in the past by violence

Scalise is the first member of Congress to be shot since former Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords in January 2011. Giffords was shot in the head by Jared Lee Loughner at a "Congress On Your Corner" event at a Tucson grocery store. Giffords, who authorities said was the main target of the shooting, survived the attack but six others were killed and an additional 12 were injured.

Loughner pleaded guilty in 2012 and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

 

 

 

No Virginia Representatives were present at the baseball practice. Many have released statements about the shooting:

Mark Warner (D-VA)

Prayers for Steve Scalise & others injured. Grateful this and every day for our brave police & first responders.

Tim Kaine (D-VA)

“I am praying for Representative Scalise and all hurt in the outrageous attack this morning in Alexandria. Thank you to the Capitol Police, Alexandria Police, first responders and everyone helping those harmed.”

Robert Wittman (R-VA 1st District)

“My thoughts and prayers are with my colleagues who were at the Congressional Baseball Game practice this morning, their staff, Capitol Police, and first responders. While I was not present this morning, I've played in the game in the past and attended these practices. It is horrifying to think of my teammates and others in attendance being attacked in this way and I want them to know they have my support during this difficult time.”

Scott Taylor (R-VA 2nd District)

"Please keep Rep. Scalise and those injured in your prayers. The act of a spineless coward to shoot unarmed individuals is reprehensible. We are very thankful for the Capitol Police who put their lives on the line to protect us."

Bobby Scott (D-VA 3rd District)

“I was shocked and saddened to learn of this morning’s shooting at a Congressional baseball practice.  My thoughts and prayers are with House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, my colleagues, their staff, their families, and the United States Capitol Police Officers who responded heroically to stop the shooter. I will continue to monitor developments of this horrific incident closely.”

Donald McEachin (D-VA 4th District)

My thoughts & prayers are w/ my colleagues, their staffers, & the Capitol Police Officers who were senselessly, brutally attacked today.

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe has also released a statement about the shooting:

"Dorothy and I are shocked and deeply saddened by this horrible act of violence against members of congress, law enforcement and other innocent people who were simple enjoying an early morning baseball practice. We are praying for swift recoveries for those who were injured and we are thankful for the bravery and quick action of U.S. Capitol Police and local first responders to stop the attacker and treat those who were wounded. Virginia public safety officials are coordinating with local responders and we will continue to monitor this situation and make every resource available."

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