Wednesday June 14 in Alexandria, Virginia shots rang out and chaos ensued after 66 year old James T. Hodgkinson opened fire during an early morning practice for the annual congressional charity baseball game.
Two firearms — an SKS rifle 7.62 and a 9 mm pistol — were found on the scene and were still being analyzed on Wednesday according to a law enforcement source’s interview with CNN.
Special agent Tim Slater, who runs the FBI’s Washington field office, says it is too early to determine whether or not the shooting was a targeted attack; however, Rep. Ron DeSantis saw photos of Hodgkinson and believe him to be the same man who had approached DeSantis and Rep. Jeff Duncan to ask whether the people practicing on the field were Democrats or Republicans.
It is believed that Hodgkinson motive was intense dissatisfaction with the results of the election, though his close relations were unaware of his plan and did not see any alarming signs of radicalism.
“I know he wasn’t happy with the way things were going, the election results and stuff,” his brother, Michael Hodgkinson, told the New York Times. He claimed that the attack was “Totally out of the blue” as his brother’s engagement in politics was seemingly mild and James led an otherwise normal life.
“He did not come off as a radical,” said Charlene Brennan, a real estate agent Hodgkinson worked with on several occasions in his hometown of Belleville, Illinois. “He did not come off as an unstable individual. He wasn’t belligerent. He was just kind of a normal guy.”
However, Hodgkinson’s Facebook account and numerous letters to the Belleville News-Democrat show evidence of hard-core political opinions. His Facebook page is riddled with references to Bernie Sanders.
Many have taken to social media accusing Sanders and liberals to be sympathizers for Hodgkinson’s act.
Sanders responded in a statement Wednesday in which he censures Hodgkinson’s behavior and violence of any kind. “I am sickened by this despicable act,” he wrote. “Let me be as clear as I can be. Violence of any kind is unacceptable in our society and I condemn this action in the strongest possible terms.”
Hodgkinson was killed in a shoot-out with the police, but not before injuring five people including GOP Rep. Steve Scalise and two U.S. Capitol Police officers.
During the shooting, Sen. Jeff Flake said he and physician Rep. Brad Wenstrup moved to Scalise to apply pressure to his wound. Scalise was later transferred to MedStar Washington Hospital Center where he has undergone several surgeries and remains in critical condition.
“Congressman Steve 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 a MedStar statement which was later publicised by Scalise’s office. “He underwent immediate surgery, and an additional procedure to stop bleeding. He has received multiple units of blood transfusion. His condition is critical, and he will require additional operations. We will provide periodic updates.”
As Scalise and his family recover from this ordeal they are receiving support from several politicians and the commander in chief himself, who visited MedStar around sundown on Wednesday.
“Congressman Scalise is a friend, and a very good friend,” said President Trump. “He’s a patriot. And he’s a fighter. He will recover from this assault — and Steve, I want you to know that you have the prayers not only of the entire city behind you, but of an entire nation, and frankly the entire world. America is praying for you and America is praying for all of the victims of this terrible shooting.”
Sen. Paul Ryan echoed Trump’s call for unity in a statement to the House, and Democrats did as well as shown in an image tweeted by Sen. Ruben J. Kihuen that depicts the opposing team praying for their fellow congressmen.
Aside from Scalise, the other victims include Tyson Foods lobbyist Matt Mika, Zack Barth who is a staffer for Texas Rep. Roger Williams, and Capitol Police officers Crystal Griner and David Bailey. According to a statement by his family, Mika is out of surgery and in critical condition as of Wednesday. Barth, who was shot in the leg, has been discharged.
Capitol Police said in a statement that Griner was in “good condition in the hospital having been shot in the ankle,” and Bailey “was treated and released having sustained a minor injury during the incident.”
Griner, Bailey, and the other Capitol Police officers at the scene are being hailed as heroes by Sen. Rand Paul who said, “Had they not been there, it would have been a massacre.”
But they were not the only heroes as many attendees banded together to protect Texas Rep. Joe Barton’s 10-year-old son. Barton got teary-eyed during a statement as he said that it felt as if his son “had 25 dads. Everybody out there was looking out for him.”
The shooting marked the first time a Congress member had been shot since the 2011 shooting of former Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords. It has caused the cancellation and delay of some events and increased security on Capitol Hill, but the baseball game will go on as scheduled.