House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, Staffer Shot at Congressional Baseball Practice

Gunman opens fire with a rifle on group of politicians

Last Updated: June 14, 2017 @ 8:45 AM

A gunman opened fire with a rifle on a group of Republican politicians practicing for the upcoming Congressional baseball game, striking House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and several others on Wednesday morning in Virginia, according to Fox News.

Alexandria Police Chief Michael Brown said the suspect, who was shot by two of his officers,  is in custody. Authorities have identified the shooter as James T. Hodgkinson, a 66-year-old from Belleville, Illinois, the Washington Post reported.

Scalise is in stable condition with a “hip wound” at George Washington University Hospital, according to the Associated Press. House Speaker Paul Ryan’s spokesperson said Scalise’s wounds were not believed to be life-threatening.

Brown told the Washington Post that five people were taken to local hospitals, including the suspected assailant, but the specific injuries were not immediately known.

Rep. Mo Brooks witnessed that attack and told the AP that several other people also were hit, including two law enforcement officers. Brooks also told CNN that at least 50 rounds were fired.

The exact number of shooting victims was not immediately known.

Scalise and several other GOP leaders and staff members were practicing for a bipartisan Congressional baseball game scheduled for Thursday evening. The lighthearted game is an annual tradition that raises money for local charities.

Scalise, 51, of Louisiana, is the No. 3 House Republican leader. The shooting appears to be a “deliberate attack,” CNN reported, citing both congressional and law enforcement sources.

Scalise was standing on second base when he was shot, according to Rep. Mike Bishop, who spoke to a radio station in Detroit.

“I was looking right at him,” Bishop said. “He was a sitting duck.”

“The gun was a semiautomatic,” Brooks told CNN. “It continued to fire at different people. You can imagine, all the people on the field scatter.”

Rep. Mark Walker told NBC that the “gunman was there to kill as many Republican members as possible,” while Rep. Rand Paul told Fox News “it would have been a massacre” if not for Capitol Hill Police who were present as part of Scalise’s security detail.

“We had no defense at all,” Paul said. “We are so lucky they were there. They saved everybody’s life.”

President Trump took to Twitter shortly after the incident, offering prayers for “true friend and patriot” Scalise and saying he will “fully recover.”