Police and emergency personnel are seen near the scene where House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of La. was shot during a Congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, Va., Wednesday, June 14, 2017. Cliff Owen |
Yes, folks, the old adage never to waste a good crisis still holds true, and the gun-control hot takes – some mixed with a dash of anti-GOP schadenfreude – started before the proverbial smoke had even cleared, even before the identity of the apprehended shooter was made public.
We will have more addressing this shortly.
A top House Republican, Steve Scalise of Louisiana, was shot by a rifle-wielding gunman Wednesday at a congressional baseball practice just outside of Washington. Several other people were also believed to have been hit, according to a lawmaker who witnessed the shooting.
Capitol Police said officers who were part of Scalise's security detail returned fire and wounded the shooter, who was taken into custody.
Scalise, the House majority whip, was in stable condition at George Washington University Hospital, according to one congressional aide. His injuries were not believed to be life-threatening. It was not known the condition of the others who were shot.
Rep. Roger Williams, R-Texas, was taken from the field in a stretcher, Fox News reported. It was not clear if Williams had been hit by a bullet.
President Donald Trump said he was "deeply saddened by this tragedy" and was monitoring developments.
The shooting occurred at a baseball field in Alexandria, Virginia, where lawmakers and others were gathered for a morning practice.
"We were doing batting practice," said Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz. "All of a sudden we heard a very loud shot. The gunman was over by the third base dugout with a clear view of the field." He said the gunman had "a rifle of some sort ... a lot of ammo."
Rep. Mike Bishop, R-Mich., said Scalise was at second base when he was shot.
"I was looking right at him," Bishop told Detroit radio station WWJ. "He was a sitting duck."
Rep. Mo Brooks, an Alabama Republican, said two law enforcement officers were believed to be among the others shot.
Brooks said that Scalise, 51, was down on the ground with what Brooks described as "a hip wound." The Alabama lawmaker said he colleague "crawled into the outfield, leaving a trail of blood."
"We started giving him the liquids, I put pressure on his wound in his hip," Brooks said.
Brooks said on CNN that he and other lawmakers tried to apply a tourniquet with his belt for one injured person to try and stop the bleeding.
"There must have been 50, 100 shots fired," Brooks said.
House Speaker Paul Ryan's office said Scalise's wounds were not believed to be life-threatening and that a member of the security detail was also shot.
Scalise is the No. 3 House Republican leader. He was first elected to the House in 2008 after serving in the state legislature.
Katie Filous was walking her two dogs near the field when she heard "a lot of shots, probably more than 20." She said the shooting "went on for quite a while."
Filous said she saw the shooter hit a uniformed law enforcement officer, who she said was later evacuated by helicopter. She said the officer had gotten out of a parked car, drawn a handgun and shouted something to the gunman, who then fired.
Rep. Jeff Duncan said in a statement that he was at the practice and "saw the shooter."
"Please pray for my colleagues," Duncan said.
The House Republican baseball team has been practicing in recent weeks in early mornings at the Alexandria site for Thursday annual congressional baseball game. Scalise has been a avid participant in the game since arriving in Congress.
Brad Wenstrup, a Republican congressman who served as a military surgeon in Iraq, attended to Scalise after the shooter was down, Brooks said on CNN.
Brooks said the assailant "was trying to take out our security detail" before he turned to lawmakers.
Representative Ron DeSantis, a Florida Republican, left a few minutes before the shooting but told Fox News that a man walked up and asked if Republicans or Democrats were out on the field. He wasn’t carrying anything, DeSantis said.
“The encounter I had in the parking lot was very, very strange,” DeSantis said, although it is unclear whether the person was the assailant.
Senator Rand Paul told MSNBC that he was in the batting cage when he first heard one isolated shot and then a rapid succession of shots. He saw Scalise dragging himself to the outfield.
Paul also said that the security detail was present because Scalise is in a leadership position in Congress. Otherwise there wouldn’t have been any officers present.
The House Democrats meanwhile were at their own, separate practice and prayed for their colleagues on the field, per a Tweet from Representative Ruben Kihuen.
Bloomberg contributed to this report.
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