Image Credits: AP Photo/Cliff Owen
It is the biggest news story of the day. At 7 o’clock this morning, James Hodgkinson open fired at a Republican practice for the annual Congressional Baseball Game for charity which is scheduled for tomorrow. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise was shot in the hip and is in critical condition after undergoing surgery. Others wounded include Capitol Police Officers Krystal Griner and David Bailey, Congressional aide Zachary Barth, and Matt Mika, a lobbyist. Hodgkinson died from the retaliating fire of the officers. A motive has not been confirmed by police.
Capitol Hill, and the entire Nation, stands united after this tragedy. Those attacked are not politicians, they are husbands, fathers, best friends, and colleagues. We must always remember this. Below are the most chilling, humanizing quotes from the Congressmen present.
Before the gunfire:
“Someone in the parking lot asked if the team practicing was a Democratic or Republican team…I told him they were Republicans. He said, ‘Okay, thanks’ and turned around. I got in the car.” – Representative Jeff Duncan, South Carolina
During the gunfire:
“I wanted to get to Steve Scalise, laying out there in the field, but while there were bullets flying overhead, I couldn’t.” – Senator Jeff Flake, Arizona
“I never thought I’d go to baseball practice for charity and have to dodge bullets.” “I watched my friend and my fellow member Steve Scalise lay motionless on the field, wondering if he was going to be OK…that is a picture I will never forget.” -Representative Rodney Davis, Illinois
“I felt like I was back in Iraq but without my weapon.” – Representative Brad Wenstrup, Ohio
“(Representative) Joe Barton’s boy was here, a ten year old, just shagging balls and we got him into the dugout and stuffed him under the bench.” – Senator Jeff Flake, Arizona
Immediately after the shooter was neutralized:
“My understanding it that’s where our security detail….still defending us, took him down. Once we got the all clear that the shooter was down, we went out to the outfield for Steve Scalise, he had crawled out in the outfield leaving a trail of blood.” “We started giving him some liquids, I put pressure on his wound in his hip and Brad Wenstrup, a congressman from Ohio, Cincinnati, fortunately is a physician. He started doing what you need to do to try to minimize blood loss.” – Representative Mo Brooks
Senator Jeff Flake explained that he took Representative Scalise’s cell phone and called his wife, so she would not find out about the attack from the news.
Reflecting on the incident:
“Had they not been there, it could have been a lot worse, I mean, dramatically worse…had the gunman got inside the fence, where our team was and a bunch of guys holed up in the dugout, it would have been shooting fish in a barrel.” – Representative Mike Conway, Texas
“Many people likely would have died this morning if not for the bravery of the Capitol Police.” – Senator Rand Paul, Kentucky
This morning’s events put things into perspective for the American people. Perhaps the rhetoric on both sides needs to cool down. Maybe this tragedy will mark the start of a new political dialogue in our country. The political division is deep, but at the end of the day we are all Americans.