Thursday, 22 November, 2018

Congressman's shooting first test for Trump-era gun debate

Francis Olson | 15 June, 2017, 22:16

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and several others were injured during the shooting at about 6 a.m. during a baseball practice for congressional Republicans in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, one day ahead of the Congressional Baseball Game.

The 66-year-old gunman was identified as James T. Hodgkinson of Belleville, Illinois, an ardent supporter of liberal Senator Bernie Sanders - who said he was "sickened" by what he called a "despicable act".

He said he saw the shooter with a long gun near the third base dugout taking "deliberate aim" at people on the field.

Congressmen at the ballpark described hearing loud noises like the sound of firecrackers and 15 to 20 people lying on the ground and realizing they had only baseball bats to defend themselves against bullets.

"It's been much more hard than people even thought at the time", Trump said of the treatment of Scalise, the No. 3 GOP leader, who is in critical condition and underwent a third surgery at the MedStar Washington Hospital Center. Brooks was on deck when the shooting started. "And thank God he wasn't a very good shot", said Representative Joe Barton, the Republican team's manager. "He has received multiple units of blood transfusion", the hospital said in a statement put out by Scalise's office.

Alexandria police chief Michael Brown said his officers arrived within minutes and engaged Hodgkinson, together with Capitol Police officers.

The special counsel overseeing the investigation into Russia's role in the 2016 election is interviewing senior intelligence officials as part of a widening probe that now includes an examination of whether President Trump attempted to obstruct justice, officials said.

"We continue to actively investigate the shooter's motives, acquaintances and whereabouts that led to today's incidents", Slater told reporters.

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At a Wednesday afternoon news conference, Barton and the Democratic coach, U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania, stressed the humanizing impact of baseball and the newfound importance of today's game at such a toxic moment in American politics.

Williams, who commended the officers' quick response, said Hodgkinson would've caused more damage had it not been for a locked gate that blocked him from getting on the field. Hodgkinson, however, had a history of raging online against President Trump and other Republicans and once singled out Scalise. And we said that it's the Republican team. "A good Samaritan let us into his apartment so we could call 911", Davis said.

As the House returned to business, lawmakers sought some semblance of normalcy even as they offered prayers for the wounded and echoed the president in pledges of unity. "Many have been shot, but a lot like me got bloody running for cover", he said.

"The practice was in advance of the Thursday game where Republican and Democratic lawmakers in the House and Senate play in a charity game". "Violence of any kind is unacceptable in our society and I condemn this action in the strongest possible terms".

Capitol Police officers who were in Scalise's security detail wounded the shooter, who was taken into custody.

"But for the Capitol police and the heroism they showed, it could very well have been a large-scale massacre".

Barth posted on Facebook after the shooting that he had been wounded but was "okay".

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