UPDATE—At U.S. Congressman and three other victims were shot around 7:15 a.m. (EDT) morning at a practice session for a Congressional baseball game in Alexandria, Virginia. Congressman Mo Brooks was on the scene and was administering first aid to one of the injured victims.
Congressman Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana), who is the House Majority Whip, was shot in the hip while playing second base, according to reports by Fox News. Rep. Scalise is reported to be stable condition and police have confirmed that the shooter, who was stopped by return fire from the U.S. Capitol police, is in custody and the scene is secure. Reports indicate one Congressional staffer was also wounded in the attack, but no fatalities have been reported.
Two Capitol policemen were also shot in the course of defending the scene from the attacker, who was using a semi-automatic rifle from a tactically advantageous position in the third base dugout. Reports vary, but all say at least 50 shots were fired in the exchange between the gunmen and the two officers.
Congressman Mo Brooks, from Alabama’s 5th Congressional District, told CNN he was on-deck for batting practice when the shooting occurred. He told CNN that he used his belt as a tourniquet for one of the victims until emergency units arrived. “The gun was a semiautomatic,” Brooks told CNN. “It continued to fire at different people. You can imagine, all the people on the field scatter.”
Alabama Congressman Gary Palmer was also on the scene and spoke to Fox News by phone this morning. He was 20 yards from the shooter, playing shortstop—closer to the shooter than Congressman Scalise, who was shot. Palmer said it appeared the shooter was first aiming at Congressman Trent Kelly, but missed. Rep. Palmer yelled at Cong. Kelly and everyone on the filed bolted for the first base dugout, opposite the shooter. He said the gunman eventually advanced towards their position, forcing them to move again, before being shot by Capitol Police on the scene.
Most U.S. Congressmen don’t have security, but Congressman Scalise does have a security detail because of his senior position in the House leadership. This morning his detail consisted of the two Capitol Hill Policemen who were shot in the process of neutralizing the attacker. Senator Rand Paul told Fox that if the Capitol Police officers had not been on the scene to return fire, it would have most certainly been a massacre, as the shooter had a large supply of ammunition and a handgun in addition to the rifle. Congressman Palmer echoed Sen. Paul’s assessment, saying the two officers were shot early in the incident but bravely continued engaging the shooter until he was neutralized. By his count, Rep. Palmer said five victims were shot.
Fox News is also reporting that an eyewitness on the scene says the gunman asked if the players on the field were Democrats or Republicans before he opened fire on the Republican Congressmen and their staffers, though Congressman Palmer told Fox he could not confirm the veracity of this statement. Fox broadcast a moving image of Democrat Congressmen and their staffers, who were practicing nearby, that were huddled in prayer for their Republican colleagues.
Congressman Palmer said we must determine a way to bring this country together.
We will provide updates to this breaking story as new information becomes available.