Gunman opens fire on Republican lawmakers at baseball practice, top US congressman Steve Scalise wounded
The group were practising for the annual Democrats versus Republicans congressional baseball game
At least five people including a top Republican congressman were wounded in a Washington suburb early Wednesday morning when a shooting erupted as they practised for an annual baseball game between lawmakers.
Senior congressman Steve Scalise was shot in the hip, according to fellow Republican lawmaker Mo Brooks who told CNN at least two law enforcement officers and one congressional staffer were also shot in the incident in Alexandria, Virginia.
Scalise is the No. 3 House Republican leader. He was first elected to the House in 2008 after serving in the state legislature.
“Five people were transported medically from the scene,” Alexandria police chief Michael Brown told a press conference.
Police said the shooting suspect was in custody and “not a threat”.
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.
US President Donald Trump said he was “deeply saddened by this tragedy” and was monitoring developments.
Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, a true friend and patriot, was badly injured but will fully recover. Our thoughts and prayers are with him.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 14, 2017
In a dramatic blow-by-blow account, Brooks of Alabama told CNN the gunman was armed with a rifle and appeared to be a white male, “a little bit on the chubby side.”
Brooks said he saw the man only for a second, and that he was shooting from a chain link fence behind the third base position on the field.
“There must have been 50 to 100 shots fired,” he told CNN.
“I hear Steve Scalise over near second base scream. He was shot,” said Brooks, adding he helped apply a tourniquet with his belt to a congressional staffer who was shot in the leg.
The group were practising for the annual Democrats versus Republicans congressional baseball game that was scheduled to be played on Thursday.
“It’s pretty well known in the neighbourhood who those folks are on the baseball field,” Brooks said. “It’s not a secret we are practising ... He was going after elected officials.”
Democrats were also practising at another field at a different location.
“One of our security detail was shooting back, but it was our pistol versus the shooter’s rifle,” Brooks said.
“The only weapon I had was a baseball bat.”
Republican congressman Mike Bishop, said Scalise was at second base when he was shot.
“I was looking right at him,” Bishop said.
“He was a sitting duck.”
Matthew Verderosa, chief of the US Capitol Police, said police were interviewing multiple witnesses on the scene.
If police had not been at the scene, “it would have been a massacre,” Paul said.
“As terrible as it is, it could have been a lot worse.”
Watch: US congressman, officers shot at Baseball practice
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.
Scalise, a representative from the southern state of Louisiana elected to Congress in 2008, heads the conservative House caucus known as the Republican Study Committee.
The staunch conservative is among the lawmakers leaving the drive to repeal former president Barack Obama’s signature health care law, among other top Republican priorities.
Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse