Gunman fires on Republican lawmakers at baseball practice, congressman wounded

Cheryl Sanders
June 15, 2017

A second Capitol police officer suffered non-gunshot injuries, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said.

Sen. Rand Paul, who said he was in a batting cage at the time said the police prevented a massacre.

"Everyone on that field is a public servant - our courageous police, our congressional aides who work so tirelessly behind the scenes with enormous devotion, and our dedicated members of Congress who represent our people", Trump said.

The shocking event left the Capitol horrified and stunned.

He also called for the country to unite following the tragic events.

Ryan said on the House floor Wednesday afternoon, "We are united in our shock".

Sen. Bernie Sanders issued a statement saying the suspect apparently had volunteered on his presidential campaign. Votes were canceled in the House of Representatives as members waited anxiously to get more news on Scalise's condition. The popular and gregarious lawmaker is known for his love of baseball and handed out commemorative bats when he secured the No. 3 job of House whip several years ago. Hodgkinson died of injuries sustained during the shootout with police. If you serve the institution of Congress, you're connected to your colleagues, current and former, by a shared sense of service to ideals far greater than yourself.

"My thoughts and prayers to everyone!" the first lady tweeted shortly after news broke of a gunman shooting a senior Republican lawmaker and several others gathered to practice for the game in Virginia, US. Residents were focused on morning workouts and getting coffee; a congressional contingent had driven over for an early baseball practice.

In defiance of the violence, Democrats and Republicans plan to play the charity game as scheduled on Thursday.

Hodgkinson has been in the area since March, living out of his van, said Washington FBI Special Agent In Charge Tim Slater.

In a March 22 Facebook post, Hodgkinson described Trump as a "traitor".

But Slater said authorities were still working to determine a motive and had no indication Hodgkinson knew about the baseball practice ahead of time. He said there were 20 to 25 members of team at the practice in Alexandria, Virginia, when the gunfire erupted. Staffers and family members were also there; Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, said his two sons were in attendance, including his 11-year-old son. "You talk to your wife, you talk to your mom, you see Steve on that stretcher, it makes you think of a lot of things", he said, his eyes welling.

At least five people were taken from the scene to local hospitals after the attack, including Zack Barth, a legislative correspondent for Republican Baseball Team coach Rep. Roger Williams, and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise.

Palmer said he and Kelly then took cover.

"It was scary", Barton said. There is no justification for what happened on that suburban ball field any more than was one for the shootings in a movie theater, an elementary school or a nightclub.

So it hardly seemed unusual when a man approached Rep. Jeff Duncan of SC in the baseball field parking lot.

About a minute later, before more gunshots go off, the man asks, "Is that guy okay out there?" The man thanked him.

While some members of Congress are granted off-site security detail, the extent to which Capitol Police are present at events outside Capitol grounds is not clear. While the top lawmakers, including Scalise, have security details, others do not and regularly appear in public without protection.

When Scalise was shot he went down on the infield between first and second base, then dragged himself into the grassy outfield as the incident unfolded, leaving a trail of blood, Brooks said.

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