Top House Republican Seriously Wounded in Shooting at Baseball Practice

A hospital in Washington, D.C., says the Republican congressman shot and wounded early Wednesday at a congressional baseball practice is in critical condition following surgery.

Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the House majority whip, was at MedStar Washington after being shot in the hip on the baseball field in Alexandria, Virginia, across the river from Washington.

Several other people were wounded when an attacker with a handgun and a rifle fired on Republican lawmakers practicing for a charity baseball game scheduled to take place Thursday in the nation’s capital.

The gunman, 66-year-old James Hodgkinson of Belleville, Illinois, was wounded by Capitol Police and later died. He fired repeatedly at the men on the baseball field before police were able to return fire.

Also wounded by the gunman were a Capitol Police officer, a congressional aide and a lobbyist.

Authorities say there is no clear motive yet for the shooting. The FBI says it is actively looking into Hodgkinson’s associations and social media postings.

Congressman Jeff Duncan told police that Hodgkinson approached him in the parking lot before the shooting and asked if the men practicing were Republicans or Democrats.

Some of Hodgkinson’s social media posts lashed out at President Donald Trump. Hodgkinson also was a volunteer with Senator Bernie Sanders’ Democratic presidential campaign.

Sanders said he is “sickened” by the shooting, and that “violence of any kind is unacceptable.”

There were about 20 congressmen on the field. The lawmakers hit the ground or ducked behind trees and shelters when Hodgkinson opened fire, apparently without warning. As many as 20 shots were fired.

There was extra security at the practice because of Scalise’s high position in the Republican Party. He is accompanied by Capitol Police at all times.

The lawmakers on the scene praised Capitol and Alexandria Police, saying if security had not been so tight, there could have been a bloodbath.

Fellow Republican Congressman Mo Brooks told CNN the security detail “exhibited great, great courage.”

Republican Brad Wenstrup, who was a combat surgeon in Iraq, treated some of the wounded before they were taken to the hospital.

Senator Jeff Flake told VOA an officer who had been shot “ran around quite a while with a wound” while firing at the gunman.

WATCH: Senator Flake’s Eyewitness Account

Scalise is majority whip in the House of Representatives, a leadership position that ensures discipline and rallies votes within the party.

Trump called Scalise “A friend and he is a patriot who will recover.” He said the shootings are a reminder for all citizens to overcome the political polarization that has gripped Washington and the rest of the nation.

“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,” Trump said.

WATCH: President Trump’s Statement on the Shooting

The managers of the Democratic and Republican charity baseball teams say Thursday’s game will go on as scheduled. Pennsylvania Democrat Mike Doyle said when U.S. leadership is civil, maybe the American people and the media will be, too.

Republican Joe Barton of Texas, whose 10-year-old son witnessed the shooting, lamented a political climate in which he said lawmakers “are not looked at as people anymore.” He cited shouting and insults thrown at lawmakers during town-hall meetings with citizens.

Lawmakers from both parties said it should not take an incident like Wednesday’s shooting to bring political adversaries together.

In Photos: Shooting at Baseball Field

           

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