‘There could have easily been 25 deaths,’ Rep. Williams says of shooting

U.S. Rep. Roger Williams describes the shooting of the Republican Congressional baseball team on June 14, 2017 (NBC Photo)
U.S. Rep. Roger Williams describes the shooting of the Republican Congressional baseball team on June 14, 2017 (NBC Photo)

WASHINGTON (KXAN) — Rep. Roger Williams described the attack on members of Congress and their staff at a baseball practice in Virginia in detail on Wednesday, his voice cracking as he spoke of the bravery of the Capitol police officers who protected them.

Four people were shot when the gunman opened fire, including Louisiana Congressman Steve Scalise. The suspect, shot by officers returning fire, died from his injuries.

Williams, R-Austin, who coaches the Republican Congressional baseball team, walked into the press conference on crutches. The congressman, whose district stretches from Austin up to the Fort Worth suburbs, has an ankle and leg injury after diving into the dugout to evade the incoming hail of bullets.

“The thin blue line held today”

“There will be those who will talk about what’s wrong in America, but in this case with Officer Crystal Griner and David Bailey we saw what is right with America,” Williams said. “There could have easily been 25 deaths or more today. We had 25 team players and 15 staff. But Officers Griner and Bailey prevented that and my family and I will be forever grateful.”

He continued, “The thin blue line held today and law enforcement officers everywhere should be proud.”

The congressman says after the first sound of a gun being fired, everybody yelled, “he’s got a gun, run for cover.” Williams, near first base, ran to the dugout and dived inside along with his colleagues, what he likened to jumping into a swimming pool without any water.

Zack Barth, a legislative correspondent in Williams’ office and a UT Austin alumnus, was shot while he was retrieving balls in the outfield. He was released from the hospital after being treated. “When I got into the dugout, it wasn’t 10 seconds that Zack had come running in from the outfield, and literally, we landed in each other’s arms. He held me, I held him,” Williams said.

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, took his belt off and made a tourniquet around Barth’s leg to stop the bleeding. “We had no arms, all we had was bats, and a shooter,” Williams said.

Vice President Mike Pence has spoken to Barth, who is on his way to recovery. As for the Congressional Baseball Game on Thursday? Game on.

“This is a game that has been going on for over 100 years, it goes to charity and we need to play this baseball game,” Williams said, adding you’ll find him coaching third base Thursday.

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