Gunman Shoots Congressman And Others At Baseball Practice

Jun 14, 2017

Updated 11:37 a.m.
A rifle-wielding gunman opened fire Wednesday at a Republican congressional baseball practice just outside Washington, wounding House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana and several others.

Capitol Police said officers who were part of Scalise's security detail returned fire and seriously wounded the shooter, who was taken into custody. He later died of his wounds. In all, five people were taken to area hospitals, including the suspect, Alexandria police said.

A government official says authorities have identified the suspect as James. T. Hodgkinson of Illinois. The official was not authorized to discuss an investigation by name and spoke on condition of anonymity. The FBI and local law enforcement officials say they haven't identified a motive.

Scalise, 51, the No. 3 House Republican leader first elected to the House in 2008, was in stable condition and undergoing surgery at a nearby hospital. His injuries were not believed to be life-threatening. It was not known the condition of the others who were shot.

Two Republican Congressmen from the Carolinas also were at the practice but were unhurt - Reps. Mark Walker of Greensboro and Jeff Duncan of South Carolina.  

Walker said in a tweet: "The Capitol Police saved many lives this morning from a shooter who had obviously planned to kill many Republican members. Shaken but OK …"  

Duncan posted a message on Facebook saying he was safe. "I was at the Congressional baseball practice, but left before the shooting to catch an earlier meeting. I saw the shooter and am in the process of giving a statement to the police. Please pray for my colleagues, I am unsure of their condition," Duncan wrote.  

President Donald Trump said he was "deeply saddened by this tragedy" and was monitoring developments.

The shooting occurred at a popular park and baseball complex in Alexandria, Va., where lawmakers and others were gathered for a morning practice about 7 a.m. The team was taking batting practice when a gunshot rang out and chaos erupted, lawmakers on the scene said.

"All of a sudden we heard a very loud shot. The gunman was over by the third base dugout with a clear view of the field," Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., told CNN.

Scalise was fielding balls on second base when he was shot, Flake said. He said the congressman dragged himself 10 to 15 yards into the outfield to get further away from the gunman.

Initial reports said that as many as 50 shots had been fired, but Flake said, "50 would be an understatement. He had a lot of ammo."

Katie Filous was walking her two dogs near the field when she heard "a lot of shots, probably more than 20." She said the shooting "went on for quite a while."

Filous said she saw the shooter hit a uniformed law enforcement officer, who she said was later evacuated by helicopter. She said the officer had gotten out of a parked car, drawn a handgun and shouted something to the gunman, who then fired.

Once the gunman was down, Flake ran to Scalise and tended to him. He said he grabbed Scalise's phone to call his wife.

"I just didn't want her to wake up and learn the news," Flake said.

Rep. Mo Brooks, an Alabama Republican, said that Scalise had what appeared to be "a hip wound." The Alabama lawmaker said his colleague "crawled into the outfield, leaving a trail of blood."

"We started giving him the liquids, I put pressure on his wound in his hip," Brooks said.

Brooks said two law enforcement officers were believed to be among the others shot. The Capitol Police said later the wounded officers were in good condition, with injuries that are not life-threatening.

Texas Rep. Roger Williams says a member of his staff was also shot and was receiving medical attention. Williams did not say what condition the staffer was in.

House Speaker Paul Ryan's office said Scalise's wounds were not believed to be life-threatening and that a member of the security detail was also shot.

Associated Press reporters Eric Werner Chad Day, Mary Clare Jalonick, Ken Thomas, Vivian Salama and Sarah Brumfield, and WFAE's David Boraks contributed to this report.