WASHINGTON — A top House Republican, Steve Scalise of Louisiana, was shot by a rifle-wielding gunman Wednesday at a congressional baseball practice just outside of Washington.
Several other people were also believed to have been hit, according to a lawmaker who witnessed the shooting.
Capitol Police said officers who were part of Scalise’s security detail returned fire and wounded the shooter, who was taken into custody.
Scalise, 51, the No. 3 House Republican leader first elected to the House in 2008, was in stable condition and undergoing surgery at a nearby hospital. His injuries were not believed to be life-threatening. It was not known the condition of the others who were shot.
President Donald Trump said he was “deeply saddened by this tragedy” and was monitoring developments.
The shooting occurred at a popular park and baseball complex in Alexandria, Virginia, where lawmakers and others were gathered for a morning practice about 7 a.m. The team was taking batting practice when a gunshot rang out and chaos erupted, lawmakers on the scene said.
“All of a sudden we heard a very loud shot. The gunman was over by the third base dugout with a clear view of the field,” the Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., told CNN.
Scalise was fielding balls on second base when he was shot, Flake said. He said the congressman dragged himself 10 to 15 yards into the outfield to get further away from the gunman.
Initial reports said that as many as 50 shots had been fired, but Flake said, “50 would be an understatement. He had a lot of ammo.”
WHO WAS THE SHOOTER
The shooter, who is dead, has been identified as James Hodgkinson, 66 years old. He was from Illinois.
Sen. Bernie Sanders said that Hodgkinson volunteered on his presidential campaign.
"I am sickened by this despicable act. Let me be as clear as I can be. Violence of any kind is unacceptable," he said in a statement.
WHAT WITNESSES SAW
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 said 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.
Once the gunman was down, Flake ran to Scalise and tended to him. He said he grabbed Scalise’s phone to call his wife.
“I just didn’t want her to wake up and learn the news,” Flake said.
Rep. Mo Brooks, an Alabama Republican, said that Scalise had what appeared to be “a hip wound.”
The Alabama lawmaker said he colleague “crawled into the outfield, leaving a trail of blood.”
“We started giving him the liquids, I put pressure on his wound in his hip,” Brooks said.
Brooks said two law enforcement officers were believed to be among the others shot.
Texas Rep. Roger Williams says a member of his staff was also shot and was receiving medical attention. Williams did not say what condition the staffer was in.
House Speaker Paul Ryan’s office said Scalise’s wounds were not believed to be life-threatening and that a member of the security detail was also shot.
PRESIDENT TRUMP REACTS
In a live statement Thursday, President Donald Trump praised the Capitol Police for their quick action and condemned violence and the shooter.
"Steve, we want you to know you have the prayers of not only the entire city behind you, but the entire nation," said Trump to Rep. Scalise.
He also said Scalise is a friend, fighter and a patriot.
He did not provide details about the shooter except to confirm he is dead.
Associated Press reporters Chad Day, Mary Clare Jalonick, Ken Thomas, Vivian Salama and Sarah Brumfield contributed to this report.
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