Lawmaker Steve Scalise injured in GOP baseball shooting; suspect James T. Hodgkinson dies after shootout – Washington Post

 In U.S.
A gunman unleashed a barrage of gunfire Wednesday at a park in Alexandria, Va., as Republican members of Congress held a morning baseball practice, wounding five people, including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (La.).

President Trump said the suspected gunman — identified by multiple law enforcement officials as James T. Hodgkinson III, 66, from Illinois — was killed in a shootout with police, two of whom were wounded in the gun battle.

The wounded also include a congressional aide and a lobbyist.

As people offered prayers for the victims, a profile began to emerge of Hodgkinson, a onetime home inspector. A Facebook page believed to be Hodgkinson’s includes pictures of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and rhetoric against President Trump, including a post that reads: “Trump is a Traitor. Trump Has Destroyed Our Democracy. It’s Time to Destroy Trump & Co.”

In remarks made from the White House shortly before noon, Trump called for unity and commended the injured officers.

“Many lives would have 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,” Trump said.

Trump said he spoke with Scalise’s wife and offered his full support to the congressman’s family. He called Scalise a friend, patriot and fighter and thanked the first responders who aided all the public servants on the field that morning.

“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.

The incident unfolded shortly after 7 a.m. during the final practice before Thursday night’s scheduled charity game between Republicans and Democrats at Nationals Park. Players and bystanders described a horrific and prolonged attack in which wounded police officers returned fire, and Scalise, felled by a bullet to his hip, crawled across the field to get out of harm’s way.

Scalise’s office said the congressman underwent surgery at MedStar Washington Hospital Center.

Zach Barth, a legislative correspondent for Rep. Roger Williams (R-Tex.), was shot but expected to make a full recovery.

What happened at the GOP baseball shooting, in maps and photos

Matt Mika, a lobbyist for Tyson Foods, was taken to a local hospital in unknown condition, according to a company spokesman.

Capitol Police Chief Matthew Verderosa said his two wounded officers are in good condition and have not suffered any life-threatening injuries.

The FBI is taking over as lead on the investigation; Verderosa said “it’s going to take a while to sort through all the details.” Tim Slater of the FBI said it is “too early to tell whether anyone was targeted. . . . It’s really raw now. We’re exploring all angles.”

But Hodgkinson’s political statements were immediately examined as a possible motive.

Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) told reporters that he spoke briefly with a man he believes was the shooter, and that he “asked me if the team practicing was a Democrat or Republican team.” Duncan added, “I told him they were Republicans. He said, ‘Okay, thanks,’ turned around.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said Hodgkinson volunteered on his presidential campaign and denounced the shooter’s actions.

“I am sickened by this despicable act,” Sanders said in a statement delivered on the Senate floor.

Robert Becker, who served as the Iowa director of Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign, said Hodgkinson had no formal role on the campaign and that he couldn’t find anyone who remembered him. “We had approximately 100 paid organizers on staff,” Becker said. “He was not one of them.”

Becker said ahead of the caucuses, about 10,000 people volunteered for Sanders at varying points.

“No one seems to remember this guy,” Becker said.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said it is conducting emergency traces on two firearms — one rifle and one handgun.

Scalise’s office, in a statement, said the congressman was out of surgery by 10:30 a.m. The statement described the whip, before surgery, was in good spirits and speaking to his wife, Jennifer, by phone. “He is grateful for the brave actions of U.S. Capitol Police, first responders, and colleagues,” the statement said.

Scalise, who has been in Congress since 2008, represents a district that includes some New Orleans suburbs and bayou parishes. Before entering Congress, he was a lawmaker in Louisiana for eight years. Scalise and his wife have two children and live in Jefferson, La.

Scalise, 51, is the third-highest ranking House Republican and has a round-the-clock Capitol Police detail.

The shooting occurred in the popular park on East Monroe Avenue. The park is in the Del Ray neighborhood, near the Potomac Yard shopping center on Route 1 and Old Town Alexandria, adjacent to a YMCA and across the street from a CVS and an Aldi grocery store.

Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.), the manager of the GOP team, said there were “dozens if not hundreds of shots fired.” Members of the team and onlookers took cover in dugouts, got down on the ground or beneath an SUV.

In addition to shooting at Scalise, the team’s second baseman, the shooter shot at third baseman Trent Kelly. Barton described the suspect as a middle-aged man wearing blue jeans and a blue shirt.

“I think he was anglo and he had a rifle, and I think he had a semiautomatic pistol,” Barton said. “Luckily, no one appeared to be killed,” he added.

Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) saw the shooter and described the scene as “bedlam.” In an interview, Brooks said he heard two or three shots before he recognized the danger. He was stepping up to home plate with a baseball bat in his hand. Then he heard a scream from Steve Scalise, whom he saw go down.

Brooks said he ran behind the batting cage and watched Scalise drag himself toward the outfield. Brooks lay down in the dirt behind the batting cage with two or three others, but then he said he realized that if the shooter moved, “he’d have a clear shot.” So he ran to the first-base dugout and dove into it.

About a dozen people were there, including one of his staff members who had been shot in the leg. Brooks said he took off his belt and applied a tourniquet. Then he saw a man with a gun appear above him and feared it was a second shooter. Instead it was a Capitol Police officer shooting back. He and another officer moved toward the shooter, who ran toward home plate and was shot down. “They were both wounded,” he said.

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) told reporters that Scalise was awake after the shooting.

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