ALEXANDRIA, Virginia, June 14, (AP): A rifle-wielding attacker opened fire on Republican lawmakers at a congressional baseball practice Wednesday, wounding House GOP Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana and several others as congressmen and aides dove for cover. The assailant, prepared with “a lot of ammo,” fought a gun battle with police before he, too, was shot and later died. Scalise dragged himself off the infield leaving a trail of blood as colleagues rushed to his assistance.
A government official identified the shooter as James. T. Hodgkinson of Illinois. The official was not authorized to discuss the investigation by name and spoke on condition of anonymity. Shortly after the shooting, Bernie Sanders, the former candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, said on the Senate floor that the shooter apparently was a volunteer for his campaign last year. Sanders said he denounced the violence “in the strongest possible terms.”
Capitol Police said officers who were part of Scalise’s security detail returned fire and wounded the shooter, who was taken into custody. Scalise, 51, the No. 3 House Republican leader first elected to the House in 2008, was in stable condition and undergoing surgery at a nearby hospital. His injuries were not believed to be life-threatening. It was not known the condition of the others who were shot. President Donald Trump said he was “deeply saddened by this tragedy” and was monitoring developments. The shooting occurred at a popular park and baseball complex in Alexandria, Virginia, where lawmakers and others were gathered for a morning practice about 7:00 am.
The team was taking batting practice when a gunshot rang out and chaos erupted, lawmakers on the scene said. “All of a sudden we heard a very loud shot. The gunman was over by the third base dugout with a clear view of the field,” the Rep Jeff Flake, R-Ariz, told CNN. Scalise was fielding balls on second base when he was shot, Flake said. He said the congressman dragged himself 10 to 15 yards into the outfield to get further away from the gunman. Initial reports said that as many as 50 shots had been fired, but Flake said, “50 would be an understatement. He had a lot of ammo.” Once the gunman was down, Flake ran to Scalise and tended to him. He said he grabbed Scalise’s phone to call his wife. Rep Mo Brooks, an Alabama Republican, said that Scalise had what appeared to be “a hip wound”. The Alabama lawmaker said he colleague “crawled into the outfield, leaving a trail of blood.” Brooks said two law enforcement officers were believed to be among the others shot. Texas Rep Roger Williams says a member of his staff was also shot and was receiving medical attention. Williams did not say what condition the staffer was in. (AP)