House Majority Whip in critical condition after shooting at congressional baseball practice

Suspect identified as 66YO James T. Hodgkinson
Posted at 8:01 AM, Jun 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-15 16:27:58-04

A gunman has died after opening fire earlier this morning on members of Congress practicing for a charity baseball game in Alexandria, Virginia, injuring Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Louisiana, the House majority whip, and three others.

According to the hospital he was being treated at, Scalise is now in critical condition after coming out of hip surgery.

President Donald Trump says that wounded Congressman Steve Scalise’s condition is more difficult than people first realized. And he says Scalise is “in some trouble.”

The president paid a visit to Scalise on Wednesday night, meeting with Scalise’s family and sitting by the congressman’s bedside.

Trump says Scalise “continues his very brave fight,” but adds: “it’s been much more difficult than people even thought at the time. He’s in some trouble.”

Trump is also crediting the congressman for bringing people together.

He says: “Steve in his own way may have brought some unity to our long-divided country.”

He’s also saluting the Capitol police officers injured in the attack on a Republican Congressional baseball practice. He says, “They ran right into the fire” and saved a lot of lives.

Police said the suspect fired at officers, who returned fire. The suspect has since died, President Donald Trump said in his remarks this morning.

"Prior to entering surgery, the Whip was in good spirits and spoke to his wife by phone," his office said. "He is grateful for the brave actions of U.S. Capitol Police, first responders, and colleagues. We ask that you keep the Whip and others harmed in this incident in your thoughts and prayers."

Multiple law enforcement sources identified the suspected shooter as 66-year-old James Hodgkinson of Belleville, Illinois. His wife told ABC News he has been living in Alexandria, Virginia, for the past two months, but had not been working and was expected to return to Illinois in the coming days. FBI agents add that he has likely been living out of his vehicle.

The FBI has also since put out a "seeking information" poster in hopes of learning more from those in Alexandria who may know more about the shooter and a possible motive, or anyone from his hometown in Illinois who could have information.

The shooting took place around 7 a.m. in Alexandria's Del Ray neighborhood, about seven miles away from the White House in Washington, D.C., where a number of lawmakers were practicing for the annual charity congressional baseball game set for Thursday. Only Republicans were at this practice; Democrats practiced separately earlier in the morning.

Zack Barth, a legislative correspondent working for Rep. Roger Williams, R-Texas, was among those shot, according to a statement from Williams. Barth is receiving medical attention and is expected to make a full recovery, Williams said.

Williams' office said the Republican baseball team holds practice every morning at 6:30 a.m. ET at Eugene Simpson Stadium Park and that Williams is the team's coach.

Matt Mika, who works as a lobbyist for Tyson Foods, was also one of those shot.

A Tyson Foods spokesperson said in a statement that Mika, director of government relations for Tyson Foods' Washington, D.C., office, was hospitalized, adding, "We’re awaiting word on his condition. Matt has worked for Tyson Foods for more than six years and we’re deeply concerned about him and his family."

One Capitol Police officer was shot and another suffered secondary injuries.

Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Alabama, told CNN, "I was on deck about to hit batting practice on the third base side and I hear, 'Bam.' And I look around and behind third base ... I see a rifle. and I see a little bit of a body.

“At the same time I hear Steve Scalise over near second base scream," Brooks added. "He was shot."

Brooks said he took off his belt and he and another congressman applied a tourniquet to try to slow down the bleeding.

Brooks said a security detail shot back at the active shooter. Brooks estimated that 50 to 100 shots were fired.

At least 21 members of Congress were at this morning's baseball practice, including Scalise and two U.S. senators. Staffers and family members were also there; Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, said his two sons were in attendance, including his 11-year-old son. All members of the GOP baseball team have been accounted for.

Barton said in a statement, "The suspect was shooting at members and staff on the field. Officers of the Capitol Police returned fire and ran toward the shooter, risking their lives while saving others. The incident lasted for approximately 10 minutes."

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, told ABC News in a telephone interview that he was in the batting cage when he heard an isolated gunshot.

Then "a burst of gunfire" erupted, Paul said. "At that point, people were dropping. Scalise was shot around second base and he crawled a little bit into the outfield."

Paul said Scalise's security detail exchanged fire with the active shooter.

"These guys were real heroes and I think without them everybody probably would have been killed," Paul said. "Steve Scalise is in leadership and that's the only reason there was security detail there at all. I'm sad that he was shot but he actually saved everybody's life by being there."'

Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, an Iraq War veteran, told Fox News that once the shooting stopped he administered aid to Scalise, putting a compression on his wound.

"I felt I was back in Iraq but without my weapon," he told Fox News.

Wenstrup said Scalise "was as brave as he could possibly be. He said, 'I'm thirsty.' Obviously, you don't know how much fluid he may be losing internally."

Some other lawmakers in attendance were: Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona; Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Florida; and Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tennessee.

Shooter missed Florida Congressmen by minutes:



The FBI has responded to the scene and is leading the investigation. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has 24 personnel on the scene; the ATF is conducting urgent traces on one rifle and one handgun.

At a news conference, this morning Alexandria Police Chief Mike Brown assured Alexandria residents that the community is safe.

Trump said in a statement, "The Vice President and I are aware of the shooting incident in Virginia and are monitoring developments closely. We are deeply saddened by this tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers are with the members of Congress, their staffs, Capitol Police, first responders, and all others affected."

Trump has canceled his speech today at the Department of Labor and Vice President Mike Pence has canceled a speech he had set for this morning.

Scalise's office said no votes are expected in the House today.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said this morning, "I know the entire Senate will join in echoing the sentiments of the president this morning. We’re deeply saddened. We’re all concerned for those injured. We’ll keep them in our prayers and send them our wish for a quick and full recovery."

He added, "The congressional baseball game is a bipartisan charity event. I know the Senate will embrace that today as we come together to express our concern and our gratitude."

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, added that he was with Paul, who had been at the practice earlier, in the Senate gym. Schumer said Paul repeated his gratitude that Scalise's protective detail was present or that it would have been a "massacre."

"Their bravery is exemplary of all Capitol Police forces and we thank them," Schumer continued.

Rep. Barton, who is a manger of the Republican team, said, "This morning marked the final practice for the Republican team for the year. The Congressional Baseball Game for Charity is scheduled for 7:05 p.m., tomorrow night, June 15. A final decision has not been made regarding the scheduled game."

Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-California, tweeted that the game is on, saying, "We will play for charity, but also for the victims & the heroic officers who took down the shooter."

Gabrielle Giffords, the last member of Congress to be shot, surviving a shooting in 2011, tweeted this morning, "My heart is with my former colleagues, their families; staff, and the US Capitol Police- public servants and heroes today and every day."

Reaction on social media following the shooting: 






Speaker of the House Paul Ryan also issued a comment on the attack:



Alexandria police said earlier Wednesday they were responding to a "multiple shooting" in the city. The tweet also said the suspect is in custody.



President Donald Trump released a statement saying:

"The Vice President and I are aware of the shooting incident in Virginia and are monitoring developments closely. We are deeply saddened by this tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers are with the members of Congress, their staffs, Capitol Police, first responders, and all others affected."

First Lady Melania Trump also weighted in to thank law enforcement:



Ross released the following statement:

“Cindy’s and my thoughts and prayers are with Whip Scalise, the staff, the Capitol Police officers, and the family and friends of those hurt. Our deep appreciation goes out to the Capitol Police and local law enforcement officers for their protection.”

Representative Rooney was at the practice but not injured in the attack, and is okay according to office staff.

A spokesperson for Florida representative Matt Gaetz says he was in D.C., but did not attend the practice.

This story is breaking and will be updated.