A group of two dozen Republican lawmakers were holding their last baseball practice in Alexandria, Va. early Wednesday when a gunman fired 50-60 shots in ten minutes, injuring Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise, the House Majority Whip. He was in critical condition Wednesday night after surgery to a hip wound. Two members of his security agents, although injured, pulled their pistols and shot the gunman, who later died to hospital.
He was identified as 66-year-old James T. Hodgkinson, a resident of Belleville, Illinois. He was described “as firing all over the place.” According to Senator Rand Paul who witnessed the attack from outside the field reported that only the presence of Scalise’s security detail, two Capitol Hill police officers, prevented a massacre of Republican congressmen.
Scalise was described as crawling off the field before one of his aides used his belt for a tourniquet to stop the bleeding. A female officer was also hit and Rep. Roger Williams, R-Tex., was seen being taken from the field in a stretcher but it was unclear if he was struck by a bullet.
The practice game took place ready for a congressional game Thursday night for charity. More than $850,000 was raised from ticket sales for underprivileged children.
One congressman reported that, as he left the practice field, he was approached by a man in running clothes who asked whether the players on the field were Republicans or Democrats. This man was later identified as the gunman.
Hodgkinson used an M4 rifle in the attack. The FBI which is investigating the case did not attribute any motive to the crime. But his Facebook page, which shows a banner image of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders for whom he campaigned, contains strong criticism of Republican congressmen and President Donald Trump. A message posted by Hodgkinson on March 22 says "Trump is a Traitor. Trump Has Destroyed Our Democracy. It’s Time to Destroy Trump & Co.”