Steve Scalise Among 5 Shot at Baseball Field


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The scene of a shooting near a Y.M.C.A. baseball field in Alexandria, Va., on Wednesday.

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Al Drago/The New York Times

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — A lone gunman opened fire on Republican members of the congressional baseball team at a practice field in a Washington suburb Wednesday, using a rifle to shower the field with bullets that struck five people, including Steve Scalise, the majority whip of the House of Representatives.

President Trump, in a statement from the White House, said the shooting suspect had died. Law enforcement authorities identified him as James T. Hodgkinson, 66, from Belleville, Ill., a suburb of St. Louis.

Two members of Mr. Scalise’s protective police detail were wounded as they exchanged gunfire with the gunman in what other lawmakers described as a chaotic, terror-filled ten minutes that turned the baseball practice into an early-morning nightmare. The police said two of the five people were critically wounded.

Standing at second base, Mr. Scalise was struck in the hip, according to witnesses, and collapsed as the shots rang out, one after another, from behind a chain-link fence near the third-base dugout. Witnesses said Mr. Scalise, of Louisiana, “army crawled” his way toward taller grass as the shooting continued.

The authorities said the Capitol Police and local officers arrived minutes after they received desperate calls for help from those under siege at the field. The F.B.I. said the bureau would take the lead in the investigation, treating it as an assault on a federal officer.

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Trump’s Statement on Virginia Shooting

President Trump delivered a statement from the White House after a lone gunman opened fire on Republican members of the congressional baseball team at a practice field in a Washington suburb Wednesday.




Photo by Doug Mills/The New York Times.

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Witnesses described a man with white hair and a beard wielding a long gun standing behind the dugout.

“He was hunting us at that point,” said Representative Mike Bishop, Republican of Michigan, who was standing at home plate when the shooting began at 7:09 a.m.

Mr. Bishop said the gunman had seemed to be “double-tapping” the trigger of his weapon. “There was so much gunfire, you couldn’t get up and run,” he said. “Pop, pop, pop, pop — it’s a sound I’ll never forget.”

Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, who was among the lawmakers practicing for an annual charity baseball game Thursday, told CNN that “the field was basically a killing field — it’s really sick and very sad.”

The shooting stunned the capital as it began the workday. Out of caution, officials quickly put in place a “robust police presence throughout the Capitol complex,” and the Secret Service added security around the White House.

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Steve Scalise, the majority whip of the House of Representatives.

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Gabriella Demczuk for The New York Times

As the magnitude of the incident became apparent, House leaders canceled the day’s votes, and Mr. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence both canceled speeches.

Mr. Trump came to the Diplomatic Reception Room at the White House after the shooting and said, “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.

“We can all agree that we are blessed to be Americans, that our children deserve to grow up in a nation of safety and peace, and that we are stronger when we are unified, and when we work together for the common good,” he said.

Mr. Hodgkinson appeared to be have been fervent fan of Senator Bernie Sanders, according to a Facebook page with references to the Vermont senator. A LinkedIn page for James Hodgkinson had a profile photo showing Mr. Sanders’s famous hair and glasses and the words, “The Dawn of a New Democracy.”

In a statement Wednesday morning, Mr. Sanders said he had been told the alleged shooter had volunteered for his presidential campaign. Mr. Sanders offered his “hopes and prayers” for the shooting victims.

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James T. Hodgkinson

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via Associated Press

“I am sickened by this despicable act,” Mr. Sanders said. “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.”

Mr. Hodgkinson also seemed to be fervently anti-Trump. He appears to have signed an online petition calling for the president to be impeached, posting it on Facebook with a chilling comment: “It’s time to destroy Trump & co.”

On Facebook, Mr. Hodgkinson appeared to be a member of anti-Republican groups, according to The Belleville News-Democrat. The newspaper said one such group is called “Terminate the Republican Party” and another is called “Illinois Berners United to Resist Trump.”

The Washington Post first identified Mr. Hodgkinson as the suspect.

The authorities said they could not comment on the motive for the shooting. Tim Slater, a special agent in charge in the F.B.I’s Washington field office, said investigators were “exploring all angles.” Asked whether the shooting was an assassination attempt, he said it was “too early in the investigation to say one way or another.”

Aides to Mr. Scalise said Wednesday morning that had undergone surgery at MedStar Washington Hospital Center and was in stable condition. The police said a total of five people had been transported to hospitals.

A friend of Zachary Barth, a staff member for Representative Roger Williams, Republican of Texas, posted a message from Mr. Barth on Facebook saying: “I got shot this morning at the baseball fields. But I am in the hospital and ok. Thank you for the thoughts and prayers.”

Matt Mika, 38, a former Congressional staffer and the director of government relations for the Washington office of Tyson Foods, was wounded in the shooting, according to a spokesman for the company. “He has been taken to a local hospital and we’re awaiting word on his condition,” a Tyson spokesman, Gary Mickelson, said in an email. “Matt has worked for Tyson Foods for more than six years and we’re deeply concerned about him and his family.”

Representative Mo Brooks told CNN that

the gunman had said nothing as he opened fire. At least 50 shots were fired, congressional sources said.

Mr. Brooks said he had gone to the aid of one of the victims, using his belt as a tourniquet to help stop the bleeding from a gunshot to his leg. He said it was about two to five minutes before other officers arrived.

“My adrenaline is raging,” he told CNN. “It’s not easy to take when you see people around you being shot and you don’t have a weapon yourself.”

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What Happened at the Shooting at a Congressional Baseball Practice

Five people were reportedly shot at a morning practice about five miles from the Capitol.



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Mr. Scalise represents the First Congressional District of Louisiana, which extends from the New Orleans suburbs.

Mr. Brooks said Mr. Scalise had dragged himself into the outfield to get away from the gunman. “There is not a whole lot you can do,” he said. “It was emotionally distressing to know the position he was in.”

He said the security officers were “screaming for reinforcements” and “it seemed like forever, but it was probably shorter than it was.”

The Alexandria police said the gunfire was reported at 7:09 a.m. and they were there within three minutes.

Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, speaking to reporters, said he heard a very loud shot and then a rapid succession of gunshots. He said that the man had dark hair and was wearing a blue shirt and jeans.

“It was obviously a large gauge rifle,” he said. People were hiding behind trees, getting on the ground or running. “Bullets were flying,” Mr. Flake said. “He had a lot of ammo.”

He added: “You’ve got to assume he knew what he was doing here. It is unclear whether Steve Scalise was targeted.”

Mr. Flake said Mr. Scalise had “remained coherent” after being shot.

Gabrielle Giffords, a former member of Congress from Arizona, said on Twitter: “My heart is with my former colleagues, their families & staff, and the US Capitol Police- public servants and heroes today and every day.”

Ms. Giffords was a week into her third term as a United States representative when she was shot in the head at close range in a grocery store parking lot during a meeting with constituents on Jan. 8, 2011. The gunman killed six people and, aside from Ms. Giffords, injured 12 others.

Representative Jared Huffman said on Twitter that the Democratic baseball team was practicing when its members heard the news. “We’re safe & with police, everyone praying for GOP colleagues, staff & Cap police,” he wrote.

Representative Peter King, a Republican from New York who was not there, said it was fortunate there had been armed security at the field. “God knows what would have happened if they weren’t there,” he said in a telephone interview.

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