A gunman unleashed several rounds of gunfire Wednesday at a park in Alexandria, Virginia, where Republican members of Congress were holding a morning baseball practice. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) was shot in the hip and underwent surgery at MedStar Washington Hospital Center.
The shooter, who has been identified as James T. Hodgkinson III, 66, from Illinois, was killed after engaging with two Capitol Hill police officers who were wounded during the incident.
A congressional aide and a lobbyist were also wounded during the shooting.
Soon after the shooting, information about Hodgkinson began to come out. A Facebook page believed to be Hodgkinson’s includes a picture of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and anti-Trump rhetoric including a post that reads, “Trump is a Traitor. Trump Has Destroyed Our Democracy. It’s Time to Destroy Trump & Co.”
The shooting occurred shortly after 7 a.m. during the final practice before Thursday night’s charity game between Republicans and Democrats at Nationals Park.
The FBI is taking the lead on the investigation because it was an attack targeting congressmen. Tim Slater, of the FBI, said it is “too early to tell whether anyone was targeted … It’s really raw now. We’re exploring angles.”
However, Hodgkinson’s Facebook posts were being examined as a possible motive for the shooting.
Representative Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) told reporters that he spoke with a man he believes to believe Hodgkinson who asked the congressman “if the team practicing was a Democrat or Republican.” Duncan said he told the man they were Republicans and “He said, ‘Okay, thanks,’ turned around.”
In a statement, Sen. Sanders said he was “sickened by this despicable act.” Sanders added, “Let me be as clear as I can be. Violence is unacceptable in our society and I condemn this act in the strongest possible terms.”
President Donald Trump praised the actions of the Capitol Police saying “Many lives would’ve 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,” the president said in the Diplomatic Room at the White House.
Mr. Trump wished Scalise and the others injured a quick recovery and called Scalise “a very good friend” a “patriot” and “a fighter.”
“He will recover from this assault, and Steve, I want you to know, you have the prayers, not only of the entire city behind you, but of the entire nation, and frankly the entire world. America is praying for all of the victims of this terrible shooting. “
House Speaker Paul Ryan (Wis.) took to the House floor to address the shooting:
“We are united. We are united in our shock. We are united in our anguish. An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.”
Ryan urged members of both parties to come together in unity saying:
“For all the noise and all the fury, we are one family. These were our brothers and sisters in the line of fire. These were our brothers and sisters who ran into danger and saved countless lives. So before this House returns to its business, let’s just slow down and reflect, to think about how we’re being tested right now, because we are being tested right now. I ask each of you to join me to resolve to come together to lift each other up, and to show the country, to show the world that we are one House, the People’s House, united in our humanity.”
The House of Representatives adjourned until 10 a.m. Thursday.