Politics

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise Will Need Additional Surgeries After Shooting

Four others wounded at Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game practice, gunman died from injuries

Cones, police tape and emergency medical bags are seen at Eugene Simpson Stadium Park in Alexandria, Va., where House Majority Whip Steve Scalise was shot during baseball practice on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 10:00 p.m.House Majority Whip Steve Scalise remains in critical condition and will need additional surgeries beyond what he underwent Wednesday after he was shot in the early morning by a gunman who opened fire at the Republicans’ congressional baseball practice.

“Scalise sustained a single rifle shot to the left hip. The bullet traveled across his pelvis, fracturing bones, injuring internal organs, and causing severe bleeding,” said the statement from MedStar Washington Hospital Center. He was transported “in shock” to the hospital, a Level I trauma center, the statement continued.

Scalise “underwent immediate surgery, and an additional procedure to stop bleeding,” according to the statement, which also reported that he had received multiple units of blood transfusion, was in critical condition, and “will require additional operations.”

In all, authorities reported that five people were wounded.

In addition to Scalise, Zack Barth, a staffer for Texas Rep. Roger Williams, and Matt Mika, a former staffer who is now the director of government relations for Tyson Foods, were shot in the attack.

Capitol Police officer Krystal Griner, part of Scalise’s security detail, reportedly was shot in the ankle and another officer protecting  Scalise, David Bailey, was treated for minor shrapnel injuries at a hospital and released.

President Donald Trump announced later that the shooter died in hospital from injuries sustained in a shootout with officers. The gunman was identified as James T. Hodgkinson of Belleville, Illinois.

Speaking to the House chamber later in the afternoon, Speaker Paul D. Ryan said “there are very strong emotions throughout this House today.”

“An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us,” Ryan said before members of the House on both sides of the aisle stood and cheered while applauding.

Barth, a legislative correspondent for Williams, later posted on Facebook that he was OK. Mika was described to Roll Call as a former Hill staffer who continued to work out with the team, helping fill out practice.

“He has been taken to a local hospital and 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,” Tyson Foods said in a statement. 

Michigan GOP Rep. Tim Walberg said at a subcommittee hearing Wednesday that Mika was a former staffer of his and “became like a third son” to him. Walberg said Mika was in grave condition and is undergoing surgery.

Texas Rep. Joe L. Barton, the GOP’s team manager, said there were 22 members at the practice.

Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks was taking swings in the batting cage Wednesday when he heard the shooter open fire — and briefly caught a glimpse of him.

“I heard this loud ‘Blam,’” the Republican congressman told reporters. “I thought it was a car backfiring or something.”

“I saw it was a rifle sticking through the chain-link fence, or right up next to the chain-link fence as the shooter was shooting away,” Brooks said. “It took two, three, four, five shots for me to recognize the danger and the precarious position I was in because I was real close to it.”

Brooks earlier told CNN Scalise was hit as he stood near second base and he watched him crawl into the outfield as the other players and coaches hit the ground.

“There was a blood trail about 10 to 15 yards long from where he was shot to where he crawled into right field,” he said.

Owen Britton of Alexandria was in the nearby YMCA gym during the shooting. There were five or six people in YMCA lobby during the shooting. Britton said one bullet went through a window of the building. He saw a man outside crouched behind a wooden structure with an “AK-47 type weapon.”

Britton said the shooter exchanged fire with someone crouched down behind a black SUV firing over the hood. A man was lying on the ground between the wheels of the SUV.

He later saw the suspect handcuffed and lying on the ground.

Sen. Bernie Sanders said on the Senate floor Wednesday that he was “sickened” to learn that Hodgkinson, the gunman, was a onetime volunteer for his unsuccessful campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination last year. The Vermont independent called the shooting “a despicable act.”

Earlier, FBI special agent Tim Slater said it’s too early to tell if the lawmakers and staff were “targeted or not.”

He initially said it was “not an assassination attempt” but later said authorities weren’t sure as yet and that he misspoke.

“No, not aware of that at all,” Slater said, when asked if it was politically motivated.

Capitol Police Chief Matthew R. Verderosa said it was his “understanding” that his officers engaged the suspect.

Alexandria Police Chief Michael Brown called the shooting “an isolated incident.”

Barth, a staffer with Williams, one of the team’s coaches, was among those shot, according to a release put out by the Texas Republican. Barth, a legislative correspondent, later posted on Facebook that he was OK.

Williams hurt his ankle amid all the chaos and was put on a stretcher, a source told Roll Call. He was not shot by the gunman.

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Williams tweeted that Barth is expected to make a full recovery.

Williams said he likely hurt his ankle, foot and leg when he dove into a dugout amid shots being fired. He said he would be coaching behind third base during the game. He said he’s gotten treatment to let him still participate in the game before he sees his own doctors in his home district.

“They have got me going enough to play the game,” Williams said of his treatment.

Williams said Wednesday evening that Barth has been released from the hospital. He said Barth was texting while shots were being fired to let people know they were under fire and needed help.

Williams said he believes the first shot members heard was aimed at Trent Kelly, who was on third base.

As the shooting began, Brooks said he and a few others took cover behind the batting cage tarp before scurrying to the other side of the field and diving into the first-base dugout for cover, where Brooks and a staffer unlooped their belts and applied a tourniquet to one of the victims who’d been shot in the leg.

As they lay prone in the first-base dugout, one of the Capitol police officers who’d been wounded by the shooter’s gunfire opened fire toward the third-base dugout, where the shooter had holed up.

“We were taking batting practice. I was at short stop. Trent Kelly was at third and I heard a gunshot and I yelled to Trent, ‘That was a gun!’” Alabama Rep. Gary Palmer told Roll Call. “And Trent looks over, he says, ‘It’s a shooter.’”

“I think the guy shot at Kelly and missed him. And then he shot again and I started running in and I saw Scalise go down. We took cover and and that's probably even much it,” Palmer said.

Palmer said he ran off the field and “a bunch of us took cover behind that big oak.”

“And then Scalise’s security detail said the guy was moving around that side,” he said. “We took cover behind the big block building."

Palmer said all players gave a police report. “And I called my wife to let her know I was OK,” he said.

Speaking to reporters later, Brooks repeatedly praised the actions of the Capitol Police officers who stopped the shooter and mitigated the carnage.

“For the grace of God, and the aim of … our Capitol Police officers shooting back, you know, I’d be with Steve Scalise in a hospital someplace along with some of our other people,” Brooks said.

The Capitol Police were present in a Suburban SUV parked outside the field’s fence at practices because they travel with Scalise.

“All we would have had is baseball bats against a riffle,” Brooks said.

Brooks tweeted about the shooting later Wednesday morning.

Praying for those injured at this morning's practice. I'm especially thankful to the US Capitol Police who risked their lived to protect us.

Mo Brooks (@RepMoBrooks) June 14, 2017

At the Democrats’ baseball practice, which takes place at the same time at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., there is no Capitol Police presence.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who was in the batting cages at the time the shooter opened fire, told CNN he was in a “lucky spot.”

“I was at the home plate batting three minutes before then and I was getting ready to leave, sometimes I give Sen. [Jeff] Flake a ride home,” Paul recalled. “[Flake] said, ‘Are you ready to go?’ and I said, ‘I’m going to go one more time at the batting cage.’”

The Kentucky Republican said he was able to get out of the fence. There is one fence opening point to the parking lot and one by Scalise’s security detail to get out of the area.

Paul estimated 50 to 60 shots were fired between the gunman and police.

“Nobody would have survived without the Capitol Hill police. They saved everybody's life,” Paul told CNN.

Trump’s initial statement said the victims were in his thoughts and he called Scalise “a true friend and patriot” on Twitter.

“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,” Trump said in the statement.

Current and former lawmakers also responded.

Former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who survived a mass shooting assassination attempt in 2011, said on Twitter that her “heart is with my former colleagues, their families & staff, and the US Capitol Police - public servants and heroes today and every day.” 

My heart is with my former colleagues, their families & staff, and the US Capitol Police- public servants and heroes today and every day.

Gabrielle Giffords (@GabbyGiffords) June 14, 2017

“I’m shocked. I’m grieved. I’m numb,” Nebraska GOP Rep. Jeff Fortenberry told Roll Call at the Capitol. “Steve Scalise is a close friend of mine.”

“All of us receive the aggressive comments,” Fortenberry said. “The aggressive nature of the political environment now is one thing, but when it spills over to violence against a fellow member or anyone in society, it’s just very hard to process.”

The team practices at E. Monroe Ave. in Alexandria, Virginia. Simpson Field is at the heart of an athletic and recreation complex in the heart of a residential and commercial block in Alexandria. 

Alexandria area schools are currently closed, according to MSNBC.

“I was out walking my dog and then they condoned of my neighborhood,” said Ann Shackleton, a local resident. “The only reason I’m here is because I’m trying to get home.” She said she did not hear the shots.

Capitol Police were showing a more enhanced security posture at the Capitol in the wake of the Alexandria shooting. Officers  near the South Door on the House side said they knew little about the situation but were on enhanced guard. Two of three officers wielded AR-15 automatic rifles.

Only members being allowed to enter Capitol building from outside. Staff, including press, being redirected to office buildings.

The Congressional Baseball Game is scheduled to be played on Thursday.

“There was discussion about it, I don’t know,” Brooks said on CNN when asked if the game would still be played. “I don’t think a decision was made, it’s a real shame.”

Thursday’s game is in honor the victims of the Manchester and London terror attacks and British Ambassador Nigel Kim Darroch is slated to throw out the first pitch, HOH reported on Monday.

Bridget Bowman, Lindsey McPherson, Stephanie Akin, Simone Pathé, Rema Rahman, Thomas McKinless, Griffin Connolly, Niels Lesniewski, Joe Williams, John T. Bennett, George LeVines and Ellyn Ferguson contributed to this report.Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.