Congressman Shot as Gunman Opens Fire on GOP Gathering
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, a Republican representative from Louisiana, was among those shot and injured when a gunman opened fire at a congressional baseball practice at a YMCA facility in Alexandria, Virginia.
At least five people were injured in the Wednesday morning shooting, which authorities called a “deliberate attack.” The Washington Post has identified the suspected shooter as James T. Hodgkinson of Belleville, Ill. President Trump announced that Hodgkinson has died, though authorities have yet to confirm his death.
Scalise was shot in the hip in the attack, with a congressional aide and two law enforcement officers among those also injured in the incident, Representative Mo Brooks said. He added that he heard 50 to 60 gunshots, but it is unclear whether that was just from the gunman or an exchange of fire between the shooter and law enforcement.
“The shooter was shot behind home plate as he was circling around to the first base dugout where there were a number of us congressmen and other folks,” Brooks told FMTALK1065. “Our security detail was able to incapacitate him at that point. I don’t know if he [shooter] was dead. He was wounded. I don’t know how many times he was wounded.”
Texas representative Roger Williams was also injured fleeing the shooting. Approximately 25 congressmen were on the baseball field at the time of the shooting, including senators Rand Paul and Jeff Flake as well as representatives Brad Wenstrup, Ron DeSantis and Chuck Fleischmann.
The politicians were preparing for the Democrats versus Republicans congressional baseball game, an annual tradition that takes place at Washington, D.C.’s Nationals Park.
Donald Trump said in a statement, “We are deeply saddened by this tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers are with the members of Congress, their staffs, Capitol Police, first responders, and all others affected.”
Scalise is the first member of Congress to be shot since Arizona representative Gabrielle Giffords survived a January 2011 attack that killed six people. “My heart is with my former colleagues, their families & staff, and the US Capitol Police- public servants and heroes today and every day,” Giffords tweeted following the Scalise shooting.
“I am sickened by this despicable act,” Bernie Sanders, whose campaign Hodgkinson worked on in 2016, said in a statement. “Violence of any kind is unacceptable in our society and I condemn this action in the strongest possible terms. Real change can only come about through nonviolent action, and anything else runs against our most deeply held American values.”
A van registered to Hodgkinson, with Illinois license plates, was found in the parking lot of the baseball field. Hodgkinson’s wife told ABC News he has been living in Alexandria for the last two months.
Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) told Fox News that as he was leaving the baseball field on Wednesday morning, he spoke to a man in the parking lot who asked if those on the field were Republicans or Democrats. DeSantis later confirmed Hodgkinson was the man he spoke to.
On Facebook, Hodgkinson, 66, is an enthusiastic supporter of Bernie Sanders and outspoken critic of Donald Trump. He has posted a number of petitions on Facebook, including one from Change.org calling for the impeachment of President Trump and Vice President Pence, which he shared in March, writing, “Trump is a Traitor. Trump Has Destroyed Our Democracy. It’s Time to Destroy Trump & Co.”
Charles Orear, a friend who met Hodgkinson while they campaigned for Sanders together in Iowa, described him to the Post as “quiet… very mellow, very reserved.”
CNN reports Hodgkinson, who was fired on by police, was transported to George Washington Hospital in critical condition.
.@HouseDemocrats praying for our @HouseGOP @SenateGOP baseball colleagues after hearing about the horrific shooting. https://t.co/y2HEUaSuzd pic.twitter.com/6HBrlnxtey
— Rep. Ruben J. Kihuen (@RepKihuen) June 14, 2017
Active shooter situation during this mornings trip to the Y. Terrifying. Am ok. Sheltered in place & under lockdown. pic.twitter.com/iJs6fZpjiK
— Joseph Miscavige (@JoeMiscavige) June 14, 2017