Congressman in critical condition after baseball practice shooting

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (KXAN/AP) — The gunman who opened fire at an Alexandria, Virginia baseball field Wednesday morning as Republican members of Congress were practicing for the annual Congressional Baseball Game scheduled for Thursday against the Democrats has died.

Austin Congressman Roger Williams, the team’s coach since he joined Congress in 2013, said a member of his congressional staff is among the injured. Williams was treated at the hospital for minor injuries he sustained while taking cover.

Williams, in a press conference, choked up thanking David Bailey and Krystal Griner, the officers who defended the group.

“Officers Griner and Bailey prevented that, and my family and I will be forever grateful. The thin blue line held today and law enforcement officers everywhere should be proud. And Americans everywhere should be thankful that this is still the kind of country that still produces these kinds of heroes,” said Rep. Williams.

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, 51, who was at second base at the time of the shooting, is said to have a hip wound and was assisted by other lawmakers who rushed to put a tourniquet on him. The Associated Press reports Scalise is in critical condition following surgery for a gunshot wound.

Five people in total were shot: Rep. Scalise, a U.S. Capitol police officer, a congressional staffer, a lobbyist and the gunman.

The incident transpired in 5 to 10 minutes during the 6 a.m. hour in the 400 block of East Monroe Street. Law enforcement confirmed that the suspect, James T. Hodgkinson, 66, of Illinois, started firing and Capitol officers returned fire even after being shot. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, said the suspect had “a rifle of some sort and a lot of ammo.”

In this May 17, 2017 photo, Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., speaks with the media on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
In this May 17, 2017 photo, Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., speaks with the media on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

During a news conference, President Donald Trump said the suspect died from his injuries. Since this case involves a federal officer, the Federal Bureau of Investigations will be taking over the investigation.

“Many lives would’ve been lost if not for the heroic actions of the two Capitol police officers who took down the gunman despite sustaining gunshot wounds during a very, very brutal assault,” said Trump.

Authorities said four victims, plus the suspect, were taken to the hospital with a variety of injuries.

Rep. Williams says his legislative correspondent, Zack Barth, was the staffer injured in the shooting. Barth, a University of Texas at Austin alumnus, is expected to make a full recovery.

Rep. Joe Barton, R-Fort Worth, was also at the field when the shooting occurred. He was not hurt.

Rep. Williams was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2012. He has twice been re-elected to serve Texas’ 25th District which covers parts of Austin, Lakeway, Wimberley, Lago Vista, Marble Falls, Burnet and Lampasas. He attended Texas Christian University where he made All-Southwest Conference for baseball and was named to TCU’s All-Decade Team for the 1960s.

Austin’s other congressman, Michael McCaul, is not on the Republican’s congressional baseball team and was not at practice.

Rep. Kevin Brady, who represents the Houston-area, left practice early.

Austin Chief of Police Brian Manley says the department will make necessary adjustments to security needs locally as they arise, noting that many members of Congress visit Austin. “We cannot stress [enough] the importance of if you see something, say something.”

Background on the Suspected Shooter

James T. Hodgkinson of Illinois has been identified as the suspect in the Congressional baseball shooting. (NBC News)
James T. Hodgkinson of Illinois has been identified as the suspect in the Congressional baseball shooting. (NBC News)

Democratic Sen. Bernie Sanders says the man authorities identified as opening fire on the Republican congressional baseball practice had apparently volunteered on his presidential campaign.

Sanders, of Vermont, says in a statement: “I am sickened by this despicable act.” He says that “violence of any kind is unacceptable in our society and I condemn this action in the strongest possible terms.”

He paid tribute to Capitol police for their response to the shooting, and said his “hopes and prayers” are with Scalise and others who were wounded.

He adds in his statement that “real change” can only come through nonviolent action.

The FBI says they believe Hodgkinson had been in the Alexandria are since March. During a Wednesday afternoon briefing, the agency said they’re seeking any tips regarding Hodgkinson’s whereabouts while he was in Alexandria.

If you have any information regarding Hodgkinson, you are asked to contact the FBI’s Washington D.C. Field Office at 202-278-2000 or 1800-CALL-FBI.

 

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