Virginia Shooting Appears To Have Targeted Republicans

A lone gunman opened fire at Republican congressmen at a baseball field, shooting and injuring five. 

The congressional baseball team was practicing at a field in a Washington, D.C., suburb June 14 when the shooter stormed the field and began shooting, The New York Times reports. Five in total were injured, and two are considered to be in critical condition.

Republican Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the majority whip of the House of Representatives, was shot in the hip. Witnesses say he collapsed and "army crawled" his way to taller grass in order to hide from the shooter.

Two members of Scalise's protective detail and another congressional staffer were also injured.

Witnesses say the shooter was purposefully targeting Republicans.

"He was hunting us at that point," said Rep. Mike Bishop of Michigan. "There was so much gunfire, you couldn’t get up and run. Pop, pop, pop, pop -- it’s a sound I’ll never forget."

The shooter has been identified as 66-year-old James T. Hodgkinson from Belleville, Illinois. Local police officers and Captiol Police arrived within ten minutes of the shooting and wounded Hodgkinson, taking him into custody. In a statement, President Donald Trump said that Hodgkinson died from his injuries.

The FBI will be handling the investigation and will treat the shooting as an attack on a federal officer. The gunman's motives are still unclear, with FBI Special Agent Tim Slater saying it's still "really early in the investigation." According to Newsweek, Florida Rep. Ron DeSantis said that prior to the shooting, the gunman approached the congressmen and asked their political affiliations. 

"A guy ... walked up to us that was asking whether it was Republicans or Democrats out there," he said. "And it was just a little odd then he walked towards the area where this all happened."

Scalise describes himself as a strong conservative leader. According to his office, he is in stable condition and undergoing surgery. 

"Prior to entering surgery, the whip was in good spirits and spoke to his wife by phone," a spokesperson told CNN. "He is grateful for the brave actions of U.S. Capitol Police, first responders and colleagues."

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul says that without Capitol Police, there would have been more casualties.

"Nobody would have survived without the Capitol Hill police," Paul said on CNN. "It would have been a massacre without them."

The politicians were practicing for the annual congressional baseball game, which has taken place since 1909. The game was to take place June 15 and it is unclear whether it will still proceed as scheduled.

Security presence on the Hill will be increased "out of an abundance of caution." The House has canceled all votes on legislation for the day and a number of hearings have been delayed. A debate on gun legislation at the House Natural Resources Federal Lands Subcommittee has also been canceled.

Sources: The New York Times, Newsweek, CNN / Photo credit: Kevin McCoy/Wikimedia Commons

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