House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, a congressional aide, and one U.S. Capitol Police officer were shot by a man with a rifle Wednesday morning in Virginia at baseball practice for a congressional charity game scheduled for Thursday night.
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The gunman, identified as James T. Hodgkinson of Illinois, was shot by Capitol Police, and taken to an area hospital. Trump, in midday remarks from the White House, said Hodgkinson died as a result of his injuries. The commander in chief thanked law enforcement officials for their actions in the aftermath of the shooting and called for unity across the nation.
“Many lives would have been lost if not for the heroic actions of the two Capitol Police officers who took down the gunmen despite sustaining gunshot wounds during a very, very brutal assault,” Trump said. “America is praying for you and America is praying for all the victims of this terrible shooting.”
In a statement, Sen. Bernie Sanders said 66-year old Hodgkinson “apparently volunteered” for the Vermont senator’s presidential campaign in 2016 against then candidate Trump.
“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,” Sanders said.
Scalise, a Republican from Louisiana, was shot in the hip during the 10-minute attack and had a security detail that helped take down the suspect. Senator Mike Lee told Fox News a staffer used a belt as a tourniquet to stop Scalise’s bleeding. Scalise’s office said he underwent surgery and was in stable condition. Scalise 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.”
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Arizona Senator Jeff Flake was among the 25 or so Republican members and staffers at batting practice Wednesday morning. He described the scene, saying the gunman was hiding out behind the third base dugout.
“When I realized he had a line of sight to the dugout with all the members there, we went down quickly,” he said. “Steve Scalise was on second base fielding balls and all of a sudden we heard very loud shots that sounded like a gun… I ran low out to Steve and started putting pressure on the wound and then it was about 10 to 15 minutes until medics arrived.”
Alexandria Police, who responded to a shots fired incident at Simpson Park called in at 7:09 a.m. ET, said they were investigating a multiple shooting in the 400 block of East Monroe Street and that victims had been transported to hospitals. At 8:23 a.m. ET, the police department tweeted confirmation the suspect was in custody and was no longer a threat.
UPDATE: Suspect is in custody and not a threat. PIO will be onscene shortly to share updates.— Alexandria Police (@AlexandriaVAPD) June 14, 2017
Alexandria Police Chief Michael Brown said his team is working with other local authorities including the Alexandria Sheriff’s Office, medical staff, and the FBI to collect evidence and statements from the scene. In a press briefing, the Alexandria Police said the incident was no longer active and “the city is safe.”
Law enforcement officials said it was too early to tell whether the shooting was an act of terror and backed off earlier comments that it was “not an assassination attempt.”
White House response
Shortly after news broke, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer tweeted that both Trump and Vice President Mike Pence had been briefed on the situation.
Trump tweeted that Scalise is “a true friend and patriot, was badly injured but will fully recover.” In an official statement, the president said he and the vice president continue to closely monitor developments. The White House said the president’s planned trip to the Labor Department Wednesday afternoon to outline directives on job-training programs was canceled in the wake of the day’s events.
Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, a true friend and patriot, was badly injured but will fully recover. Our thoughts and prayers are with him.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 14, 2017
Pence, meanwhile, canceled a planned appearance at the National Association of Home Builders 2017 Legislative Conference on Capitol Hill Wednesday, where he was scheduled to speak about infrastructure and Workforce Week at the White House, and instead headed straight for the White House. Republican Rep. Peter Roskham opened the event, asking for a moment of silence at 8:29 a.m. to honor those attacked on the baseball field earlier in the morning.
Karen & I are praying for @SteveScalise, the Capitol Police, & all hurt for a speedy recovery. Our hearts are with them & their loved ones.— Vice President Pence (@VP) June 14, 2017
Shots fired at final practice before charity baseball game
The roughly two dozen Republican members of Congress and staff gathered on the field Wednesday morning were holding their final batting practice before the annual Capitol Baseball Game, a charity event slated for Thursday at Nationals Park in Washington D.C.
The Republican vs Democrat matchup, which has been held nearly every year since 1909, donates proceeds from ticket sales to local charities including the Boys and Girls Club, the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation, and the Washington Literacy Center.
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“We will raise $650,000 for underprivileged kids here in D.C.,” Flake said. “It’s one of the longest institutions in Congress…a great event. Ten thousand people get to the game.”
This year’s event has already raised about $600,000 for charity, Rep. Ron Desantis (R-Fla.) told FOX Business Network on Wednesday after the shooting.
Representatives for the Congressional Baseball Game were not immediately available for comment. Rep. Martha McSally said she told House members the game would still go on Thursday, news that was met with a standing ovation.
FOX News Channel’s Chad Pergram contributed to this report.