House Majority Whip, several others shot at congressional baseball practice


House Minority Whip Steve Scalise

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) was shot at a Republican congressional baseball practice Wednesday morning by a gunman who appeared to have targeted members of Congress.

Police in Alexandria, Va., located just outside of Washington, D.C., said they were investigating a “multiple shooting” and a suspect was in custody.

Five wounded people, including the suspect, were taken to area hospitals for treatment, the police said. Scalise, 51, the third-ranking Republican in the House, was shot in the hip and was in stable condition, undergoing surgery, according to a statement issued by his office.


Two police officers and two or three congressional staff members were among the wounded, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky said on CNN.

The shooter “was going after elected officials,” Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) told CNN from the scene of the shooting. At least a couple of dozen members of Congress were present for the early morning baseball practice, which was in preparation for an annual charity baseball game.

The location of the practice field and the fact that members of Congress were using it was well known in the area, Brooks noted.

One person, not a member of Congress, was shot in the chest and appeared to be the most seriously wounded, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) told reporters.

The House cancelled all votes for the day.

According to witnesses, batting practice was just ending when a man dressed in casual running clothes, later identified as the shooter, approached and started chatting with lawmakers, according to a person familiar with the investigation, who spoke on condition of anonymity to comment on an open investigation.

The practice field is an open and community-friendly spot, and it’s not uncommon for visitors to stop by. Many lawmakers were near the dugout area when the man approached them.


Shortly afterward, the man began shooting. It’s unclear if he was armed when he first approached the lawmakers or if he retrieved his weapon, a rifle, afterward.

The gunman, a white man with dark hair and wearing a blue shirt, could be seen standing with a rifle as he began shooting, Flake said. “Fifty would be an understatement,” he added, referring to the number of shots.

Scalise was standing on second base, fielding balls during batting practice when the shooting began, Flake said.

“We climbed into the dugout” to shelter and treat the wounded, Flake said.

Police returned fire, and “when we heard the shooter was down,” he and others ran onto the field to help Scalise until medics arrived, Flake said.

Alexandria Police Chief Michael Brown said his officers arrived on the scene within two to three minutes and engaged the shooter.

Matthew Verderosa, chief of the U.S. Capitol Police, said police were interviewing multiple witnesses on the scene.

Paul was taking a final run when he heard the first shot. Then many more rang out.

If police had not been at the scene “it would have been a massacre,” he said. “As terrible as it is, it could have been a lot worse.”

The members of Congress “practice 20 or 30 times” over a period of several weeks before the game, Paul said.

Paul said he heard perhaps 50 to 60 shots, which he said sounded like they were coming from an AR-15 or similar rifle.

Capitol Police officers were present as part of a security detail because Scalise, a member of the congressional leadership, was there.

“We were really lucky that they were there,” Paul said.

The charity ballgame, played off and on since 1909, pits Democrats against Republicans in a friendly rivalry. The game is sponsored by the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call and raises money for three Washington-area charities. It is scheduled to take place Thursday evening at the Washington Nationals ballpark before a few thousand Capitol Hill staff members, lobbyists and other members of Congress.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer tweeted that President Trump was aware of the shooting.

Trump tweeted that Scalise, “a true friend and patriot, was badly injured but will fully recover. Our thoughts and prayers are with him.”



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