Politics

Baseball Practice Shooter Legally Purchased Guns, Police Say

Authorities recovered handgun and rifle at the scene

Alexandria Police stand next to a SUV with a shattered window across the street from Eugene Simpson Stadium Park in Alexandria, Va. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A gunman who opened fire Wednesday at the Republicans’ practice session for the Congressional Baseball Game legally purchased the handgun and a rifle found at the scene, police said.

James Hodgkinson, 66, wounded five people at the morning practice in Alexandria, Virginia, including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, two Capitol Police officers, and a current and former Hill staffer. He later died from injuries sustained during a shootout with police, shortly after he opened fire. Police recovered a 9mm handgun and a 7.26 caliber rifle at the scene.

“ATF has conducted traces on these weapons and has determined that both were purchased by the shooter from federal firearms licensees,” the Capitol Police, FBI, Alexandria Police, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said in a joint statement Thursday. “We currently have no evidence to suggest that the purchases were not lawful.”

In the statement, the FBI said the agency searched Hodgkinson’s white van for evidence. The van was parked in the YMCA lot next to the park where the attack took place. The FBI is examining a cell phone, a computer and a camera found in the van. 

Law enforcement officials also said they are continuing to investigate Hodgkinson and “his activities and social media impressions in the months leading up to yesterday’s incident.”

Hodgkinson posted anti-Republican messages online, writing in one Facebook post, “Trump Has Destroyed Our Democracy. It’s Time to Destroy Trump & Co.”

GOP lawmakers were practicing for the 56th annual Congressional Baseball Game for charity, which is still scheduled to occur Thursday night at Nationals Park. Republicans on the field described a horrific scene when Hodgkinson opened fire and they ran for cover.

They credited the Capitol Police officers, who were detailed to protect Scalise as a member of leadership, with saving their lives. The shooting also raised new questions about providing security at congressional gatherings.

Scalise, who was shot in the hip, is still at Medstar Washington Hospital Center, and has reportedly undergone a third surgery. The hospital released a statement Wednesday night, saying Scalise was in critical condition and would require additional surgeries. 

Matt Mika, a former GOP staffer who is now government relations director for Tyson Foods, was shot in the chest and is still hospitalized.

Zach Barth, a staffer for Texas GOP Rep. Roger Williams, was also wounded in the shooting. He is out of the hospital and was spotted off the House floor Thursday morning on crutches. 

Capitol Police officer Crystal Griner, who was shot in the ankle, was hospitalized Thursday. The second officer, David Bailey, who reportedly was injured by shrapnel, was treated and released.  

House lawmakers passed a resolution honoring law enforcement and first-responders for their heroic actions on Wednesday.

Rema Rahman and Alex Gangitano contributed to this report.

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