A gunman opened fire at a congressional baseball practice session in Alexandria, Virginia on Wednesday injuring Republican Congressman and House majority whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana and several others. The practice session came ahead of an annual game between lawmakers in a Washington suburb.
A second congressman Roger Williams was also injured, but it is unclear if he was shot or injured in some other way. “Five people were transported medically from the scene,” Alexandria police chief Michael Brown told a press conference.
President Donald Trump, who said he was ‘deeply saddened’ by the tragedy, confirmed that the gunman died after being shot by the Capital Police. The assailant has been identified as James T. Hodgkinson.
Fellow Republican lawmaker Mo Brooks told a television news channel that Scalise was shot in the hip, adding that at least two law enforcement officers and one congressional staffer were shot. Scalise “was not able to move on his own power. He was dragging his body from the second base infield to the outfield to get away from the shooter while all this firing was going on,” Brooks told the channel. Scalise is reported to be in a stable condition at the George Washington University hospital. His injuries are not life-threatening.
Scalise is the No 3 House Republican leader. He was first elected to the House in 2008 after serving in the state legislature.
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 told the Associated Press 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.
Senator Rand Paul described the scene as “sort of a killing field”. “Without the Capitol Hill police it would have been a massacre,” he told Fox News.
“Capitol Police showed tremendous bravery today. I’m grateful for them and cannot thank them enough for their service,” said Congressman Tom MacArthur.
(With inputs from agencies)