Monday, 24 September, 2018

Trump, Melania visit wounded senior Congressman in hospital

Francis Olson | 15 June, 2017, 21:54

US representatives Ron DeSantis and Jeff Duncan had ducked out of baseball practice early on Wednesday when a middle-aged man in the parking lot asked them if the players in red shirts on the field were Republicans or Democrats."Republican", Duncan said before departing.Minutes later, the man, rifle and handgun in tow, opened fire on the congressmen's teammates - Republican lawmakers gathered on a muggy morning near Washington to prepare for a charity ballgame.

ONE AFTER another after another on the Wednesday morning television news shows came the harrowing accounts from Republican members of Congress of how their baseball practice just hours earlier had become a bloody battlefield.

By 7:14 a.m., the gunman, 66-year-old James Hodgkinson from the St. Louis suburb of Belleville, Illinois, was down. Bernie Sanders, who took to the Senate floor to condemn "this despicable act".

House of Representatives Majority Whip Steve Scalise was among those injured in the shooting on Wednesday. Two U.S. Capitol police officers returned fire, were shot and are being hailed as heroes.

After an all-members briefing where Democrats and Republicans held hands and prayed, House Speaker Paul Ryan and top Democrat Nancy Pelosi addressed the somber chamber and proclaimed lawmakers were "united".

Hodgkinson's social media posts displayed strong anti-Trump sentiment.

The shooting took place just after 7:00 am (1100 GMT) as the Republican team practiced for the well-loved charity showdown. "An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us". "The next thing I remember was somebody on the field yelling, 'Run, he's got a gun'".

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Witnesses reported that James Hodgkinson, identified by authorities as the man who carried out the attack on congressmen as they practiced for an upcoming charity baseball game, was firing a rifle when the attack began. He ultimately died of his injuries.

The violence was the first major attack on Washington lawmakers since former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head six years ago, an event many of her former colleagues recalled Wednesday.

Barton had arrived at the US Capitol still wearing his red baseball uniform.

Ahead of his visit, a White House official said Trump may only be able to visit Scalise's family, which has gathered at the facility, since the lawmaker himself remains critically ill.

"We were sitting ducks", said Representative Roger Williams.

Spicer noted that Trump does not plan to attend the congressional baseball game today due to security and logistical concerns.

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