Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is uninjured after a shooting at a baseball field in Alexandria, Va., where Republican Congress members were practicing for a coming Congressional Baseball Game for Charity, which was scheduled for Thursday.
Representative Steve Scalise was shot. Scalise is the House Majority Whip. Five people were taken to area hospitals, including the shooter.
Witnesses reported that more than 50 shots were fired.
It has been reported that Scalise is in stable condition with wounds to the hip area.
According to MSNBC, Rand Paul said that Scalise, as a House leader, always has Capitol Police with him as security detail. Scalise has represented Louisiana’s 1st District since 2008.
President Donald Trump released a statement after being briefed: “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.”
Paul was in the batting cage when shots rang out.
“The first shot was an isolated shot,” he told MSNBC. “I grew up in the South and I just sort of thought that someone has discharged a shotgun, which isn’t that unusual in the South. But then I thought, we are in the city; we’re not in the country… but then after the first shot, then there was a rapid succession of shots… five or 10 shots.
“So, I’m outside the perimeter, I’m on the right field line and the batting cages are outside the field. There’s about a 10-foot fence between me and the field. And in the field, I see Representative Scalise is shot but moving. And he’s trying to drag himself through the field and out into the outfield. There are two staffers in right field, only about 10 feet from me but there’s a 20-foot fence separating me from them. And they were laying down. But then I’m seeing the shots hitting the dirt around them. They were trying to make a difficult decision: ‘Do we lay here, stay low and hope he doesn’t hit us?’ and this is a difficult decision. Or does the shooter come closer and just shoot you. So you have to make a decision at some point, whether to stay or run.
“And so one of the staffers scrambled up over the fence — like a 15 or 20-foot-tall fence. He did it in about two seconds. I don’t think I could have done that. And he and I are hiding by the tree. But the gunshots are landing in the dirt in the outfield and around us, but it takes a few minutes to determine where the shots were coming from. I really, my instinct, was that the shots were coming from the third base line. And as more shots were fired… we weren’t pretty sure what side of the tree to stand on because you’re not sure where the shots were coming from. But everybody seemed to be congregating away from the third base line. In small buildings. In the dugout.
“People on the field, unfortunately, didn’t have much of a chance because nobody could get to them and they couldn’t get to us. And it was a wide open field and just no way to get to people like Scalise until the firing would stop. So, at one point, it appeared the gunman was — I think he continued to reload — but I heard probably 50, 60 shots.
“And then finally we heard a response from the Capitol Hill Police. And we’re actually very lucky they were there. They do a great job. These are brave men and women, and we were really lucky they were there.”
Paul said that the only thing he could tell about the perpetrator was that he had a blue shirt on and that he had a rifle. He said that many more people would have died had the Capitol Hill Police not been there and that they were only there because Scalise was in attendance.
“Fortunately, by him being there, he probably saved everybody else’s life,” Paul told MSNBC. “Because if you don’t have a leadership person there, there would have been no security there.”
Paul said that his life is very “normal.” He goes to the grocery and goes out on the town with no security.
Reportedly two Capitol police members were also hurt. It is also speculated that at least two aides have been hurt as well.
Paul escaped by “jumping in a car” driven by a friend of a congressional aide.
No one’s injury has been deemed life-threatening.
Update 10:55 a.m.: A press briefing was held this morning at the crime scene.
FBI Special Agent in Charge Tim Slater said that the event didn’t appear to be an assassination attempt and that it was too early to tell if anyone was a target. A reporter asked if the shooter asked if the people on the field were Democrats or Republicans before opening fire, but Slater declined to answer.
Capitol Hill Police Chief Matthew Verderosa said that the police members who were taken to the hospital were in good condition and expected to make a “rapid recovery.”
Alexandria, Va. Police Chief Michael Brown said that there was “every indication that this was an isolated incident.”
No updates were given on Scalise’s condition, but officials said repeatedly that no one’s injuries were life-threatening.
Update 11:49 a.m.: The shooter has been identified as a white male, James T. Hodgkinson, and has died. He died from gunshot wounds, but it is as of yet unclear how those wounds were sustained.
Update 3:00 p.m.: The AP reports that Scalise is in critical condition following surgery.