House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana was among several people shot Wednesday when a gunman opened fire at a congressional baseball practice, law enforcement officials say.
Two police officers and three others were also reportedly wounded in what authorities say was a “deliberate attack.” The lone gunman, identified as James T. Hodgkinson, was shot and taken to a DC-area hospital where he died of his wounds.
Several members of Congress and congressional aides had gathered shortly after 6 a.m. Wednesday morning at a baseball field in Alexandria, Va., just outside of Washington, while lawmakers practiced for a charity baseball game played between Republicans and Democrats every year.
That game was scheduled to be held Thursday night.
According to Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., he was on deck about to hit batting practice on the third-base side when he heard shots fired.
“And I look around and behind third base in the third base dugout, which is cinderblock, I see a rifle. And I see a little bit of a body and then I hear another ‘blam’ and then I realize there’s an active shooter.”
Brooks said he heard Scalise scream and then took cover behind a batting cage and later the first base dugout.He also said a member of the congressional security detail returned fire.
Raw audio: 911 call from shooting in Alexandria, Va:
“There were members of congress on their cell phones screaming for re-enforcement,” Brooks said.
Sen. Jeff Flake, R- Ariz., speaking to reporters on the scene, also said lawmakers and aides took cover in the dugouts at the field and that security personnel engaged the shooter.
Flake said one of the security officers was shot in the leg, though the senator believes it was that officer who eventually took down the shooter.
Flake said the incident lasted “at least” 10 minutes and that he called Scalise’s wife from the scene using the lawmaker’s phone.
Flake said Scalise was shot in the hip and fell near second base, but eventually dragged himself into the outfield.
Sen. Jeff Flake Describes Shooting At Congressional Baseball Practice:
Scalise’s office confirmed Wednesday morning that the lawmaker was shot in the hip during the practice and taken to MedStar Washington Hospital Center. Scalise is in stable condition and undergoing surgery, according to the press release.
“Prior to entering surgery, the Whip was in good spirits and spoke to his wife by phone,” Scalise’s office wrote in a statement. “He is grateful for the brave actions of the U.S. Capitol Police, first responders and colleagues. We ask that you keep the Whip and others harmed in this incident in your thoughts and prayers.”
Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., said on Fox News that after he left the practice a man walked up to him and asked whether the people in the field were Republicans or Democrats.
DeSantis said the man who approached him was not holding anything and that he has let police know about the conversation.
“It was just a little odd and then he kind of walked toward the area where all this happened,” DeSantis said on Fox News.
Alexandria Police Department Chief Michael Brown said at a news conference that officers with the Capitol Police and the Alexandria Police Department received a call at 7:09 a.m. with reports of an active shooter, and that Alexandria police officers arrived on the scene within three minutes.
Police Update On Shooting Of Rep. Steve Scalise, 3 Others:
“Two of our officers engaged in gunfire and returned fire,” Brown said.
Brown confirmed that five people were transported to the hospital after the incident. He declined to give their names, say where they had been transported to, or describe the nature of their injuries.
Brooks said several congressmen and staffers were lying on the ground after the incident, although he could not say how many were actually wounded. He did say he used his belt as a tourniquet to aid one of the victims.
Press Secretary Sean Spicer tweeted early Wednesday that both President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are aware of the shooting and that “our thoughts and prayers are with all affected.”
Trump later released a statement that said “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.”
Shortly after the shooting this morning, several House representatives tweeted their well wishes to Scalise and the other victims:
Rep. Dan New House, “Praying for my friend @SteveScalise, Capitol Police officers, and everyone affected by this morning’s shooting.”Rep. Jim Renacci, “Devastated to hear what happen to my friend @SteveScalise & hardworking staff who were practicing for a bipartisan charity baseball game.Rep. Todd Rokita, “Many of those on the practice field today are my friends. @SteveScalise is a leader, a mentor and a good friend to me. My thoughts and prayers are with everyone on that field today. I want to thank our law enforcement officers for responding quickly to the situation.”Rep. Darrell Issa, “Asking you to join me in prayer for @SteveScalise, @CapitolPolice, their staff and others at the Congressional baseball game practice this AM.”Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., issued a statement saying, “Our prayers go out for a full recovery of Rep. Scalise, the congressional aides and police officers who were injured. We’ve got to stop the violence.”
Brown said the Alexandria Police Department is working with the FBI to collect evidence and witness statements, and collaborating with the Capitol Police and Alexandria Sheriff’s Department.
Capitol Police chief Matthew Verderosa said some of his officers on scene also engaged a suspect in gunfire before the Alexandria police officers arrived shortly thereafter to assist.
President Trump statement on Steve Scalise Virginia Alexandria James T. Hodgkinson:
Brown and Verderosa both declined to take questions from reporters.
“This is an active, ongoing investigation,” Brown said. “We call the crime scene hot because we’re collecting evidence and it would be premature for us to respond any further.”
Brown called the situation stable.
“There’s no additional threat, we consider this incident to be a closed incident under investigation,” Brown said.
Brown said he would provide additional details at another press conference later this morning.
The House of Representatives has been summoned to a 11:15 a.m.briefing. It is expected to cancel votes that had been scheduled for Wednesday.
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