Bullet to Cantor’s Office Was Random, Police Say
Updated: 5:16 p.m.
The bullet fired into the building that houses House Minority Whip Eric Cantor’s (R) Richmond, Va., campaign office on Tuesday was randomly shot into the air, according to local police.
Gene Lepley, public information officer for the Richmond Police Department, said the bullet hit a window of a shared first-floor conference room that is occasionally used by the Congressman.
“We believe it was fired into the air and it came down and entered that room through the window. It was a stray bullet as a result of random gunfire,” Lepley said. “The investigation remains open, but we have no suspects at this time.”
Cantor announced in a press conference Thursday that “a bullet was shot through my campaign office in Richmond this week.”
The building is a nondescript and avocado-green with a blue door, according to Google Maps Street View. There are no markings on it that would indicate that the building houses a political office. Other tenants include Virginia Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling’s (R) campaign office, two political consulting firms and a Republican direct-mail distributor. The office of Cantor’s political action committee, Every Republican is Crucial PAC — ERICPAC — is on the second floor.
Lepley said the area surrounding Cantor’s office is urban and there are no shooting ranges or hunting grounds in the immediate vicinity.
He declined to comment on the type of ammunition used or the type of gun that fired the shot. He also declined to say whether random gunfire is common in Richmond.
The incident came amid reports of several Members receiving threats surrounding the debate on and passage of health care reform.
Cantor held a press conference Thursday announcing the incident and skewering Democrats for using reports of threats for political gain.
“It is reckless to use these incidents as media vehicles for political gain. That is why I have deep concerns that some, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen [Md.] and [Democratic National Committee] Chair Tim Kaine in particular, are dangerously fanning the flames by suggesting that these incidents be used as a political weapon. Security threats against Members of Congress [are] not a partisan issue, and they should never be treated that way. To use such threats as political weapons is reprehensible.”
Cantor said Republicans do not condone violence. “I’ve received threats since I assumed elective office not only because of my position but also because I am Jewish. I’ve never blamed anyone in this body for that, period. Any suggestion that a leader in this body would incite acts or threats against Members is akin to saying that I would endanger myself, my wife or my children.”
After three minutes, Cantor ended his press conference and left without taking questions.
A preliminary investigation indicated that someone fired the bullet into the air and that it struck the window “in a downward direction, landing on the floor about a foot from the window,” according to a Thursday police press release.
“The round struck with enough force to break the windowpane but did not penetrate the window blinds,” the release states. “There was no other damage to the room.”
Nobody was in the office at the time.
Cantor’s office was not immediately available for comment.