Suspect in congressional baseball practice shooting identified

Suspect in congressional baseball practice shooting identified

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise was among those injured when a gunman opened fire at a congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia, Wednesday morning.

Law-enforcement identified the shooter as 66-year-old James Hodgkinson of Belleville, Illinois, multiple news outlets reported.

Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks told CNN he saw at least five people injured in the shooting at the congressional baseball practice.

“I look around, and behind third base in the third-base dugout, which is cinder block, I see a rifle,” Brooks told CNN. “And I see a little bit of a body and then I hear another ‘blam’ and I realize that there’s an active shooter. At the same time, I hear Steve Scalise over near second base scream that he was shot.”

Brooks said people scattered as the shots continued to ring out.

“I run around to the first-base side of home plate, and we have a batting cage that’s got plastic wrapped around it to stop foul balls, and hide behind the plastic,” he said. “I’m lying on the ground with two or three others as gunfire continues.”

Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona saw the gunman standing at the third-base dugout “with a clear view of the field and everybody on it.”

Scalise had been on second base when the shots rang out.

“Steve [Scalise] dragged himself about 15 yards off of it, from second base onto the field, and was lying motionless out there. But we couldn’t get to him until the shooting stopped,” Flake recalled to reporters.

“After a time, another staffer ran in with a leg wound, he was shot in the leg, and … was then shot in the field and continued to run.”

Scalise, who was shot in the hip, was rushed into surgery. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy told The Washington Post that Scalise made it out of surgery and is recovering.

Within minutes of the shooting, police arrived on scene, firing at the gunman, officials said. Capitol Police Officers were at the scene for Scalise’s security detail. Two of the officers were injured.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul attributes the quick response to the Capitol Police who were there to protect Scalise.

“Had the Capitol Police not been there, he would have walked around and shot everybody,” Paul told CNN. “By him being there it probably saved everyone else’s life.”

Rep. Mike Bishop spoke to Detroit’s WWJ radio station about the incident.

“The only reason why any of us walked out of this thing, by the grace of God, one of the folks here had a weapon to fire back and give us a moment to find cover,” Bishop said. “We were inside the backstop and if we didn’t have that cover by a brave person who stood up and took a shot themselves, we would not have gotten out of there and every one of us would have been hit — every single one of us.”

The FBI said they would not share information about the suspect’s motivation, but haven’t ruled out terrorism. In a statement, Scalise’s office confirmed he was undergoing surgery and was in stable condition.

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