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.

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.

Scalise was in critical condition after surgery, according to So Young Pak, spokeswoman for MedStar Washington Hospital Center. It is not clear if he will have a second surgery, a Scalise aide told CNN.

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.”

A White House official told CNN President Donald Trump is planning to visit the hospital Wednesday night where Scalise and Capitol Police are being treated.

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 charity baseball 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 will sponsor with the proceeds.

Rep. Mike Doyle, who manages the Democratic team, said at the same conference that his team would host the 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 taking place 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.

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 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 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.

Shooter identified

Hodgkinson’s Facebook page is largely political, and 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 that 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.”

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said both in a statement and on the Senate floor that he had learned the shooter had volunteered on his Democratic 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 many regular proceedings were canceled or postponed.

In his remarks, Ryan also said he’d been moved by 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 outside 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.

This story has been updated and will continue to update as news develops.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this report misidentified this size of the a pistol recovered from the scene of thae shooting. It was a 9 mm pistol.

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7 thoughts on “GOP House Whip Steve Scalise in critical condition after shooting at baseball practice

  1. Qualia

    ” I wonder if it will be discovered that he was funded by George Soros?” The very statement, the words “I wonder” seem to mean guilty as charged anymore, why would that be a valid comment except to incite. I appreciate that you need to have someone else write for you. Legal oppression is a form of violence traditionally met with protest, as the new Americans revolted against the British, legal oppression, eventually led to war. When individuals are pushed beyond their threshold things happen. If you actually looked yourself you would see conservative violence, I see you termed your question to be limited to riots and looting but lets talk abortion clinics for just one, then lets talk police violence against black men, then lets talk violence against gays and lesbians, then violence against Muslims, then violence against “illegals”, then lets talk rhetoric, both sides are guilty, my point, the parties themselves take a position, an individual does as they feel best. You don’t want to blame guns or the NRA for gun violence, I don’t think the parties as a whole can be blamed for violence either.
    That is the get real.

    • Dieselrider

      No it isn’t the parties that are to blame for the violence. It is the individuals. But, if you look at the trend it is definitely the liberals who are now taking violence directly at anyone who doesn’t agree with them. On college campuses you see the trend that freedom of speech can only be allowed IF you agree with their ideals.

      As to hate crimes against Black men: That is something that the democratic South was the original hot bed for. And now the democrats would have you believe they are for equal rights while pushing to suppress blacks by keeping them trapped inside the system that suppresses them. As to the violent acts against Muslims,, gays and lesbians or abortion clinics. Go ahead and list the attacks on abortion clinics in the last 20 years. That should take you awhile. Muslims themselves hate gays and lesbians and those are two cultures that will never live peacefully together.

      The point is that liberals are at this point a very insecure bunch of mambie pambies that have become an unstable bunch of whiners that are so worried about their “Safe spaces” they will lash out in violence at anyone who disagrees with them. They want to claim to be all inclusive but, the facts and their actions show a much darker side. Perhaps too many years at liberal arts schools have twisted their minds to the repetitive drum beat of mush minded professors along with their inability to think for themselves has resulted in what our society has become.

      As to your reference to the revolutionary war: That’s what last November was all about. And the violence ortioned out by one side could very well lead to the other returning the favor. We have never seen a civil war where the battle lines are so intertwined but, we may very well be heading that way.

      One other thought for you and the left to consider: You have mentioned before in some of your ramblings about the New Testament of the Bible. Have you ever read Revelations? Did you happen to notice that Russia and China are refereed to in that book but, there is no reference to the USA? Could it be that the left really does win out and the Country conservatives love will be no more?

      • Qualia

        The democratic South is now the Republican party, check it out.
        “trapped inside the system that suppresses them”, and the solution is to take away that system and then do what? Suddenly everyone is motivated or are real riots in our future? Taking food and housing away from a few million people without a plan is really smart.
        “Go ahead and list the attacks on abortion clinics in the last 20 years”, so past violence during liberal administrations doesn’t count? You forget the liberal conservative cycle.
        “Muslims themselves hate gays and lesbians and those are two cultures that will never live peacefully together.” That has nothing to do with the conversation and does not apply to all Muslims.
        I’ve only ever brought up the New testament to clarify a change in God’s attitude between the two books, revelations, so what, that book has been interpreted a thousand different ways all depending on preconceived results. Maybe the US isn’t mentioned because it didn’t exist at the time leading one to wonder about any predictions there.
        Stereotypes galore
        Every repressive government fears education, toe the party line. Thank goodness I don’t belong to either party and don’t feel obligated to either dogma.

        • Dieselrider

          “Thank goodness I don’t belong to either party and don’t feel obligated to either dogma.”

          You are the only one that believes that. Your dogma is VERY evident again.

  2. Dieselrider

    Remember how the leftist liberals were stating how the right conservatives shouldn’t misbehave over the results of the election once Hillary was elected? Yeah, this is them, misbehaving over the loss they suffered in November.

    • Qualia

      One man is hardly a model or example of “leftist liberal”, your comment is a prefect example of stereotyping, where one instance of misbehavior by one man due to an affiliation the affiliated have no control over becomes the definitive example, anyone with any kind of awareness of the world and it’s varied constituent members knows making an assignment like that is folly and bound to lead to inaccurate assessments of a political position. I’m described as a leftist liberal and you have made many assumptions about me based on that label that were wrong. I’m certainly NOT going to go out and shoot people because I’m an LL. There is no “them” here, this was the action of one man, surely even you can see that it serves no constructive purpose nor solves any problem to assign this to a specific political position.

      • Dieselrider

        These following words are not by me but a friend. These are just a very few things that have been happening by left leaning liberals and the trend is getting way worse.

        “I think it says volumes that this nut job is (or was) another left-wing progressive. I wonder if it will be discovered that he was funded by George Soros?

        The violence committed by the leftists in this country over the past 20+ years is appalling.
        There were the G20 riots in Seattle in 1999, the Rodney King riots in 1992, more recently the shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords and 18 others in 2011, the Ferguson Missouri riots in 2014, the Baltimore Maryland riots in 2015, the attacks on T*rump supporters in Albuquerque New Mexico, San Jose California and other places, riots over the election outcome in Portland Oregon and other places in 2016, the Milwaukee Wisconsin riots in 2016 and of course the riots in Washington DC during the inauguration in January 2017 and the riots by the so-called anti fascists (Antifa) radicals in 2017.

        That’s a lot of violence from a political party that says it advocates peace. Frankly, with the rhetoric that comes from the mouths of o*bamma, c*linton, p*elosi, wasserman-shultz and the new chairman perez, I’m surprised that this hasn’t happened before. I fear that it will happen again.
        There is no doubt that there is more than enough hate on both ends of the political spectrum.

        But, when was the last time there were riots and looting, in this country, by a c*nservative group?”

        Come on Q Get Real for the first time ever in your life….If you are able.

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