A lone gunman opened fire on a group of GOP lawmakers preparing for a charity baseball game Wednesday morning, wounding the House Majority whip and three others before being shot to death by police.
Two others received secondary injuries during the minutes-long standoff, which involved dozens of shots fired in a normally placid suburban community.
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise was shot in the hip and is listed in critical condition after surgery.
MedStar Washington Hospital Center released the following statement shortly after 8 p.m.:
Congressman Steve Scalise sustained a single rifle shot to the left hip. The bullet travelled across his pelvis, fracturing bones, injuring internal organs, and causing severe bleeding. He was transported in shock to MedStar Washington Hospital Center, a Level I Trauma Center. He underwent immediate surgery, and an additional procedure to stop bleeding. He has received multiple units of blood transfusion. His condition is critical, and he will require additional operations. We will provide periodic updates.
The gunman was identified as James T. Hodgkinson, 66, of Belleville, Illinois. Hodgkinson, according to letters to the editor he sent to his local newspaper and various social media posts, was vehemently opposed to the Republican Party and worked on behalf of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders during last year’s presidential campaign. He reportedly moved to the D.C. area two months ago.
Bill Euille, a former Alexandria mayor who had become acquainted with Hodgkinson, told the Washington Post that Hodgkinson appeared to be living out of a gym bag and spent hours sitting in the nearby YMCA’s lobby.
“Outside of myself, I don’t think he knew anyone else in town,” Euille said.
The shooting occurred on the eve of an annual baseball event between House Democrats and Republicans. The team of Republican legislators had nearly completed an early morning practice in a residential neighborhood just a few miles from the nation’s Capitol.
* House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., was shot in the hip and was in critical condition after surgery.
* Two Capitol Police officers assigned to Scalise’s security detail — Special Agent Crystal Griner and Special Agent David Bailey — were also injured. Griner was shot in the ankle and Bailey sustained minor injuries, according to police department briefings.
* Zack Barth, a legislative correspondent to Rep. Roger Williams, R-Texas, and Matt Mika, a former congressional aide who now is a lobbyist for Tyson Foods, were also shot. Williams received treatment on the scene for injuries sustained trying to dodge the gunman.
Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R–Cincinnati, an Army reservist and physician whose specialty is as a surgeon for foot and ankles, was at the field and was among the first to tend to Scalise’s wounds.
President Donald Trump described Scalise as a “very good friend” who will recover from the gunshot wounds.
Trump also said that “many lives would have been lost if not for the heroic actions of the two Capitol police officers who took down the gunman despite sustaining gunshot wounds during a very, very brutal assault.
He also called for national unity: “We may have our differences, but we do well, in times like these, to remember that everyone who serves in our nation’s capital is here because, above all, they love our country.”
The call for unity extended to the House of Representatives, which delayed votes Wednesday in the aftermath of the shooting.
Before adjourning, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R–Wisconsin, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D–Calif., made remarks honoring the victims and expressing a desire for unity. Speaking before a packed House chamber, Ryan said that despite serving during a partisan era, “we are one family.”
“We are united in our shock and anguish,” Ryan said. “An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.”
The alleged shooter owns a home-inspection business, but his license expired in November 2016 and was not renewed, state records show. Hodgkinson was charged in April 2006 with battery and aiding damage to a motor vehicle, according to online records in St. Clair County, Illinois, the Washington Post reported. The charges were dismissed, records show.
“He was this union tradesman, pretty stocky, and we stayed up talking politics,” a fellow campaign worker told The Washington Post. “He was more on the really progressive side of things.”
Sanders issued a statement shortly after noon: “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. Real change can only come about through nonviolent action, and anything else runs against our most deeply held American values.”
Tim Slater, who is in charge of the FBI’s Washington field office, said “it is too early to say” what the motives of the shooter were — or even whether the gunman specifically targeted members of Congress. He said the gunman succumbed to multiple gunshot wounds to the torso.
He said the early investigation seems to indicate that the gunman had been living out of his white cargo van in the city of Alexandria since March, and asked for those in the community to “report any interactions” they may have had with him.
He was armed with a rifle and a handgun.
In January 2011, a gunman opened fire in Tucson, Ariz., at a “Congress on Your Corner,” event organized by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Giffords was seriously wounded and six died during that attack. Twelve others sustained injuries during the attack. The gunman was later sentenced to life in prison.
Lawmakers huddled after the shooting to discuss Capitol security. In part because of the heated nature of Congress, some members have recently moved their district offices to courthouses, which are required to have additional security.
Chief Matthew Verderos of US Capitol Police said the wounded officers are in good condition.
“Our officers acted heroically today,” he said. “It may take awhile to sort through all the details.”
Scalise’s office said in a statement: “Prior to entering surgery, the Whip was in good spirits and spoke to his wife by phone. He is grateful for the brave actions of U.S. Capitol Police, first responders, and colleagues.”
Rep. Jeff Duncan of South Carolina said he left the GOP practice early when he ran into Hodgkinson before the shooting began. Duncan said the man asked him whether the congressional members were Democrats or Republican, and Duncan replied the latter.
Schools in the area were on lockdown, and the normally busy thoroughfare for commuters was blocked off by police and emergency vehicles. Bystanders and neighbors mingled with reporters searching for information.
Rep. Mike Bishop, R-Michigan, said Scalise was standing on second base when he was shot.
“I was looking right at him,” Bishop told Detroit radio station WWJ. “He was a sitting duck.”
Alexandria Police Chief Michael Brown said the department got the first 911 call at 7:09 a.m., and arrived at the scene three minutes later. He said the shooting was “an isolated incident.”
The GOP members of Congress were practicing for an annual charity baseball game in which they play Democratic members. The game is scheduled for Thursday at the stadium where the Washington Nationals play, and lawmakers announced Wednesday afternoon that the game would take place.
Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Marietta, was at the practice but left before the shooting took place, a spokesman said. Johnson and Wenstrup are the only Ohioans on the GOP baseball team.
“I am unharmed,” he tweeted.
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