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GOP baseball shooting

House majority whip, several others, shot at congressional baseball practice

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) was shot at a Republican congressional baseball practice Wednesday morning by a gunman who appeared to have targeted members of Congress.

Police in Alexandria, Va., located just outside of Washington, D.C., said they were investigating a "multiple shooting" and a suspect was in custody. Five wounded people were being taken to area hospitals for treatment, the police said.

Two police officers and two or three congressional staff members were among the wounded, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky said on CNN.

The shooter "was going after elected officials," Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) told CNN from the scene of the shooting.  The location of the congressional practice session, in preparation for an annual charity baseball game, was well known in the area, he noted.

One person, not a member of Congress, was shot in the chest and appeared to be the most seriously wounded, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) told reporters.

 

The gunman, a white man with dark hair and wearing a blue shirt, could be seen standing with a rifle as he began shooting, Flake said. "Fifty would be an understatement," Flake said, referring to the number of shots.

Scalise, 51, the third-ranking Republican in the House, was standing on second base, fielding balls during batting practice when the shooting began, Flake said. 

"We climbed into the dugout" to shelter and treat the wounded, Flake said. 

Police returned fire, and "when we heard the shooter was down," he and others ran onto the field to help Scalise until medics arrived, Flake said. 

Alexandria Police Chief Michael Brown said his officers arrived on the scene within two to three minutes and engaged the shooter.

Matthew Verderosa, chief of the U.S. 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."

The members of Congress "practice 20 or 30 times" over a period of several weeks before the game, Paul said.

Paul said he heard perhaps 50 to 60 shots, which he said sounded like they were coming from an AR-15 or similar rifle.

Capitol Police officers were present because Scalise, a member of the congressional leadership, was there.

"We were really lucky that they were there," he said.

The charity ballgame, played off and on since 1909, pits Democrats against Republicans in a friendly rivalry. The game is sponsored by the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call and raises money for three Washington-area charities. It is scheduled to take place Thursday evening before a few thousand Capitol Hill staff members, lobbyists and other members of Congress.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer tweeted that President Trump was aware of the shooting. 

Trump tweeted that Scalise, "a true friend and patriot, was badly injured but will fully recover. Our thoughts and prayers are with him."

Rep. Steve Scalise None
Rep. Steve Scalise

UPDATES

6:22 a.m.: This post has been updated with information from an Alexandria Police media briefing.

This post originally published at 5:10 a.m.

 

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