By RT News

Five people were injured when a gunman opened fire on US congressmen at a baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia. House of Representatives Majority Whip Steve Scalise is among the injured. The shooter later died in the hospital.

“The assailant has now died from his injuries,” President Donald Trump said in a statement around 11:30 am local time on Wednesday. Earlier, police had said that the suspect was in custody and “not a threat.”

Trump called Scalise (R-Louisiana) a “patriot and a fighter,” and thanked the Capitol Police for their heroic actions in stopping the shooter. He also addressed the possibility that the attack may have been politically motivated.

We may have our differences, but we’d do well in times like these to remember that everyone that serves in our nation’s capital is here because above all they love our country,” Trump said.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) called for unity on the House floor.

“We are united in our shock, we are united in our anguish. An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us!” he said, adding, “We do not shed our humanity when we enter this chamber. For all the noise and all the fury, we are one family.”

Ryan identified the two Capitol Police agents injured in the shooting as Krystal Griner and David Bailey.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) called the shooting an “injury in the family,” urged the members of Congress to come together, and sent wishes for a speedy recovery to Rep. Scalise.

All votes scheduled for Wednesday in the House of Representatives have been canceled. Trump also canceled a speech this afternoon at the Department of Labor.

A 911 call about an active shooter came in around 7:09 am local time, Alexandria Police Chief Michael Brown told reporters, adding that his units responded within three minutes.

The FBI is taking the lead on the investigation, but will work with state and local authorities, Special Agent Tim Slater said. It is “too early to say” if this was an act of  political terrorism, he added.

“It’s not an assassination attempt,” Slater said at first, but walked that comment back when asked for clarification, saying, “we are not sure at this moment.”

Injured officers were in “good condition,” said Capitol Police Chief Matthew Verderosa, adding that they “acted heroically.”

Governor Terry McAuliffe (D-Virginia) commended the heroic actions of Capitol Police and Alexandria officers, adding, “There are too many guns on the streets.”

Scalise was in stable condition and undergoing surgery, his office said in a statement earlier on Wednesday.

“Prior to entering surgery, the Whip was in good spirits and spoke to his wife by phone. He is grateful for the brave actions of U.S. Capitol Police, first responders, and colleagues,”

Shortly after 11am, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters Scalise was out of surgery and “doing well.”

MedStar Washington Hospital Center later tweeted that Scalise is in critical condition after surgery. The other patient at that hospital is in good condition.

One congressional aide, a lobbyist, and two police officers were also among the injured, according to reports. Officials declined to confirm or deny that information.

While none of the officials at the press conference would give details on the injured or the shooter, the Washington Post cited law enforcement sources to identify the attacker as James T. Hodgkinson, 66, of Belleville, Illinois.

Fox News reporter Chad Pergram says a gunman armed with a rifle attacked the group near a YMCA, firing dozens of shots. Alexandria is just south of Washington, DC.

Chief Brown said five people were taken to hospital following the incident, but declined to identify the victims or the suspect.

Scalise is currently the Majority Whip in the US House of Representatives and represents Louisiana’s 1st congressional district.

Speaking on CNN, Representative Mo Brooks (R-Alabama) said Scalise was shot with a semi-automatic weapon. Brooks said he saw a man with a gun “blasting away.” Scalise’s Capitol Police security detail returned fire.

Brooks reportedly used his belt as a tourniquet to stop Scalise’s bleeding.

This is the first time a member of Congress has been shot since 2011, when Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Arizona) survived an assassination attempt at a town hall in Tucson.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said on Twitter that both President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are aware of the “developing situation”.

There are also reports that two police officers who were hospitalized after the shooting are also stable.

Scalise and other members of Congress were practicing for a charity baseball game scheduled for Thursday. Reuters is reporting that 15-25 lawmakers were at the baseball field when the attack occurred, along with a dozen staff members and security personnel.

The annual congressional baseball game, which sees senators and congressmen from each party face off against one another, has been a tradition since 1909. It will not be canceled or postponed, CNN reported citing congressional sources.

Congressman Ron DeSantis (R-Florida), who left the scene moments before the shooting, told Fox News that a man walked up to him as he was walking to his car and asked if it was “Republicans or Democrats out there.”

Congressman Mark Walker (R-North Carolina), told NBC News it seemed the “gunman was there to kill as many Republican members as possible.”

Rep. Mike Bishop (R-Michigan) told WWJ radio that he witnessed Scalise being shot: “He was a sitting duck.”

A witness told journalist Will Drabold that he heard a “wave of gunfire” and saw 10-15 people flee the field. He said he also saw men returning fire from behind what looked to him like a federal vehicle.

“The Vice President and I are aware of the shooting incident in Virginia and are monitoring developments closely,”President Trump said in a statement. “We are deeply saddened by this tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers are with the members of Congress, their staffs, Capitol Police, first responders, and all others affected.”

Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) was also at the baseball field. Speaking to MSNBC, he said “it would have been a massacre” if the Capitol Police security had not been at the scene.

Scalise, 51, has been a congressman since 2008. His leadership position among congressional Republicans means that he is entitled to a security detail.

US Capitol Police released a statement to congressional offices saying that they have deployed a “robust” police presence throughout the Capitol complex. However, they said that all buildings within the area are open in accordance with routine operations.

This article (Shooter who targeted Republican congressmen at Alexandria baseball practice has died) was originally published on RT News and syndicated by The Event Chronicle


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