UPDATED: June 14, 2:37 p.m.
Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana and several others were shot during an early-morning congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia, on Wednesday in what authorities are calling a “deliberate attack” by a single gunman, who has since died of injuries.
Rep. Mo Brooks, who was at the field along with approximately two dozen other members of Congress, told CNN the shooting took place at around 7:15 a.m. during a practice for the congressional baseball team near a local YMCA. Besides Scalise, a congressional aide, a government lobbyist, and two officers of the Capitol Police were also shot.
Scalise, a member of the House Republican leadership as the Majority Whip, was shot in the hip, and Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona said he ran onto the field and applied pressure on Scalise’s wound, followed by Ohio Rep. Brad Wenstrup, who is a podiatric surgeon. Scalise was taken to MedStar Washington Hospital Center and underwent surgery around 10 a.m., according to a statement from his office. MedStar tweeted mid-afternoon that “Rep. Scalise was critically injured and remains in critical condition. The other patient is in good condition.” It’s not clear who that patient is.
Fox News had reported earlier that at least one aide was shot in the chest, and Politico had reported that two people brought to George Washington Hospital soon after the shooting were in critical condition. Rep. Roger Williams of Texas said one of his aides was injured in the attack and was receiving medical attention. The staffer, Zach Barth, later posted on Facebook that he was shot but is “okay” and in the hospital.
Around noon Wednesday came news that Matt Mika, director-government relations for Tyson Foods’ Washington office, was one of the five people shot in the incident. “He has been taken to a local hospital and we’re awaiting word on his condition,” Gary Mickelson, a Tyson spokesman, said in a statement. An update mid-afternoon said Mika was in critical condition.
Alexandria Police said they had responded to “multiple shootings” but subsequently tweeted that the suspect, shot at the scene, was in custody and did not pose a threat. The shooter was subsequently named as 66-year-old James Hodgkinson, of Illinois, and the president announced in a televised late-morning statement that the assailant had died of injuries after trading fire with Scalise’s security detail at the field.
U.S. Capitol police chief Matthew Verderosa, said his officers who were shot are in good condition.
“There is every indication that this is an isolated incident,” Alexandria Police Chief Michael Brown added later. Timothy Slater, an FBI special agent on the scene, told reporters that it was an “active investigation” and that the bureau got involved around 9:30 a.m. “Too early to tell if they were targeted or not,” Slater said, despite insinuations by some lawmakers and political figures, including the president’s son Donald Trump Jr., that the attack was politically motivated.
Rep. Brooks described the scene of the shooting: “I see the shooter – he’s probably 80, 90 feet away from me. I hear Steve Scalise say something. I don’t know if it was a scream.”
“[Scalise] crawled into the outfield, leaving a trail of blood,” Brooks continued. “We started giving him the liquids; I put pressure on his wound in his hip.”
Brooks said he saw the shooter for only a couple of seconds and that he was located behind the third-base dugout. “The gun was a semiautomatic,” Brooks said. “It continued to fire at different people. You can imagine, all the people on the field scatter.”
Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, also an eyewitness, told USAToday: “I heard a bang, and I thought it sounded like a gun. I never saw a shooter. I heard him. I was close to the damn thing. Some of our people have been hit. This is horrible. I got bloody running and jumping into the dugout.” Sen. Flake said he thought he heard more than 50 shots fired.
Sen. Rand Paul told MSNBC that “everyone would have died” had Scalise’s security not been there. Most members of Congress do not have armed protection, but members of the congressional leadership like Scalise do.
“Had the Capitol Hill police not been there, he would have just shot everybody,” Paul said. It was “incredibly brave. Nobody else had a weapon.”
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer tweeted to say both President Donald Trump and VP Mike Pence were aware of the situation.
“The Vice President and I are aware of the shooting incident in Virginia and are monitoring developments closely. We are deeply saddened by this tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers are with the members of Congress, their staffs, Capitol Police, first responders, and all others affected,” President Trump said in a statement.
Trump later tweeted that Scalise was “badly injured” but “will fully recover.” He and Pence both canceled previously scheduled public appearances for the day, but the president is expected to make a statement about the shooting later in the day Wednesday, according to CBS.
Scalise and colleagues were at the field practicing for the annual Congressional Baseball Game, scheduled for Friday at Nationals Park. The game has been a tradition since 1909, featuring Senate and House members of both parties, who sport the uniform of their home state and raise money for charity. The Republican team practices at 6:30 a.m. most mornings at Eugene Simpson Stadium Park, where the shooting occurred.
Scalise gave an interview to ABC News this past Monday where he talked about his excitement for the game.
In response to the shooting of a member of Congress, the Capitol Hill Police have deployed a “robust police presence throughout the Capitol complex” in Washington. The House has canceled votes for the day and all members are meeting for a briefing at 11:15 this morning.
Alexa Liautaud contributed to this report