Last updated: 9:39 p.m., Wednesday, June 14, 2017.
A rifle-wielding gunman who shot and injured multiple people Wednesday at a congressional baseball practice in Virginia has died from gunshots wounds he received when police returned fire, President Donald Trump said during a press conference at the White House.
Four people were shot and injured by the gunman, including Congressman Whip Steve Scalise, who is in critical condition, officials say.
- Rep. Whip Steve Scalise shot at baseball field in VA
- Scalise in critical condition, according to congressional aide
- Gunman has died, President Trump says
- Two officers also shot
- Roster for the Congressional Baseball Teams
The gunman, James T. Hodgkinson, 66, of Illinois, came prepared with "a lot of ammo," and was wounded by Capitol Police Officers and taken into custody. He later died from his injuries.
The shooting happened around 7 a.m. at Eugene Simpson Stadium Park in Alexandria. The baseball facility is used by Congress members for practice.
"All of a sudden we heard a very loud shot. The gunman was over by the third base dugout with a clear view of the field," the Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., told CNN.
GOP Majority Steve Scalise of Louisiana was standing on second base when he was shot, Flake said. He said Scalise dragged himself 10 to 15 yards into the outfield to get further away from the gunman.
MedStar Washington Hospital Center said the bullet that hit Scalise's left hip travelled across his pelvis, fracturing bones, injuring internal organs and causing severe bleeding.
"[Scalise] underwent immediate surgery and an additional procedure to stop bleeding. He has received multiple units of blood transfusion. His condition is critical, and he will require additional operations," the update from the hospital said.
A Congressional aide and a lobbyist were also hurt in the incident, and two Capitol police officers were shot while confronting Hodgkinson.
"Many lives would've been lost if not for the heroic actions of the two Capitol police officers," Trump said.
Initial reports said that as many as 50 shots had been fired, but Flake said, "50 would be an understatement. He had a lot of ammo."
Texas Rep. Joe Barton, still in his baseball uniform, told reporters a shooter came out to the practice and opened fire, shooting at Rep. Trent Kelly, R-Miss., who plays third base.
"He shot at Steve Scalise, our second baseman. He hit Steve Scalise," Barton said, "Scalise's security detail and the Capitol Hill police immediately returned fire, and Alexandria Police also immediately came and began to return fire. They shot the shooter. The security detail saved a lot of lives because they attacked the shooter."
Barton described the shooter as a "middle aged man. Blue jeans and a blue shirt. I think he was anglo. He had a rifle and I think he had an automatic pistol, but I wouldn't swear to it."
Rep. Jeff Duncan of South Carolina said he had just left the practice and encountered the apparent gunman in the parking lot before the shooting. The man calmly asked which party's lawmakers were practicing and Duncan told him they were the Republicans. The man thanked him.
Bernie Sanders says Hodgkinson apparently volunteered on his campaign. Sanders is "sickened by this despicable act."
Over the years, Hodgkinson apparently has written a number of letters to the editor to the Belleville News-Democrat, with him exclaiming in a 2012 letter, "Let’s vote all Republicans out of Congress, and get this country back on track."
Barton said the shooting lasted 5-10 minutes, and there were dozens if not hundreds of shots fired.
"It was scary," Barton said.
Lawmakers took cover in the dugout. Barton said his son, Jack, got under an SUV.
After the gunfire stopped, Sen. Flake said he ran onto the field to attend to Scalise's wound. After medical personnel arrived, he said he retrieved Scalise's phone and made the first call to Scalise's wife to notify her of the shooting. He said he did so to ensure that Mrs. Scalise would not find out about the shooting through the media.
President Trump released a statement this morning after learning of the shooting: "The Vice President and I are aware of the shooting incident in Virginia and are monitoring developments closely.
"We are deeply saddened by this tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers are with the members of Congress, their staffs, Capitol Police, first responders, and all others affected."
Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, a true friend and patriot, was badly injured but will fully recover. Our thoughts and prayers are with him.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 14, 2017
Scalise is the No. 3 House Republican leader. He was first elected to the House in 2008 after serving in the state legislature. Scalise is a popular and gregarious lawmaker and is known for his love of baseball.
Major League Baseball said it supports the decision to play the game Thursday at Nationals Park as scheduled.
"We look forward to a full recovery for each of the victims and hope that (Thursday) night's game can play a constructive role in the healing process," said MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred.
Rep. Jeff Duncan said in a statement that he was at the practice and "saw the shooter."
"Please pray for my colleagues," Duncan said.
A woman walking her dog near the ball park said she saw the shooter hit a uniformed law enforcement officer, who she said was later evacuated by helicopter.
She said the officer had gotten out of a parked car, drawn a handgun and shouted something to the gunman, who then fired.
Brooks said two officers were believed to be among the others shot.
Texas Rep. Roger Williams says a member of his staff was also shot and was receiving medical attention. Williams did not say what condition the staffer was in.
In a brief interview in a Senate hallway, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, "I think everybody handled it well and things seem to be under control."
Other lawmakers were stunned in the aftermath of the event, which raised questions about the security of members of Congress. While the top lawmakers, including Scalise, have security details, others do not and regularly appear in public without protection. The last time a lawmaker was wounded was when Democratic Rep. Gabby Giffords of Arizona was shot in the head and grievously injured while meeting with constituents at a supermarket parking lot in 2011.
Gunman who shot congressman had history of anti-GOP activity
Officials said James T. Hodgkinson, 66, who shot and wounded GOP Majority Whip Steve Scalise and several others Wedensday at a baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia had a long history of lashing out at Republicans and once frightened a neighbor by firing a rifle into a field behind his Illiniois house.
In the hours after the attack, a picture began to emerge of an attacker with a mostly minor arrest record who worked as a home inspector and despised the Republican Party.
Hodgkinson was a member of a Facebook group called "Terminate the Republican Party," which shed some light on account from South Carolina Rep. Jeff Duncan, who said as he was preparing to leave the baseball field, a man politely asked him whether it was a Democrat or Republican team before quietly walking off.
Until recently, Hodgkinson ran a home-inspection business out of his house.
A search of online newspapers show that Hodgkinson frequently wrote letters to his hometown newspaper, the Belleville News-Democrat, which published nearly two dozen letters between 2010 and 2012, many of which included complaints about the same theme: income inequality.
Hodgkinson, who lived in the community just across the Mississippi River from St. Louis, compared the economic conditions of the time to those that preceded the Great Depression and excoriated Congress for not increasing the number of tax brackets and taking other tax reform measures.
On May 14, 2010, he wrote: “I don’t envy the rich; I despise the way they have bought our politicians and twisted our laws to their benefit.”
Less than a year later, on March 4, 2011, he wrote that Congress should rewrite tax codes to ease the tax burdens of the middle class.
“Let’s get back to the good ol’ days, when our representatives had a backbone and a conscience,” he wrote.
Later that year, in October 2011, he applauded the Occupy Wall Street protesters in New York and Boston, writing that the demonstrators “are tired of our do-nothing Congress doing nothing while our country is going down the tubes.”
Hodgkinson also had arrests in his background for a series of minor offenses and at least one more serious offense. Court records show that his legal trouble started in the 1990s with arrests for resisting police and drunken driving. His most serious problems came in 2006, when he was arrested on a battery charge.
In April 2006, he was arrested on two counts of battery — one for striking a man in the face with a wood shotgun stock and another for punching a woman with his fist, as well as a count of unlawful damage to a motor vehicle for cutting the passenger seatbelt of the woman’s car with a knife. According to the court clerk, the charges were dismissed in November of that year.
Dale Walsh, 65, of Belleville, said he was a lifelong friend of Hodgkinson’s. He said Hodgkinson spent most of his life building homes but in recent years turned to home inspections.
Walsh said Hodgkinson never talked politics with him and did not seem prone to violence. But he said he was a passionate person who occasionally got into fights.
“He was the type of person that if you challenged him, he wouldn’t back off.”
Reactions and prayers from leaders are pouring out on social media for Congressman Scalise and the others who were shot Wednesday morning:
Devastated by this morning's news. Praying for my fellow members and staff attacked.— Rep. Charlie Crist (@RepCharlieCrist) June 14, 2017
My heart is with my former colleagues, their families & staff, and the US Capitol Police- public servants and heroes today and every day.— Gabrielle Giffords (@GabbyGiffords) June 14, 2017
This is a developing story, please check back for updates.
Information from Associated Press was used in this report.