The House of Representatives postponed most scheduled business after a morning shooting at a baseball practice for Republicans lawmakers, which injured one GOP leader, several officers and at least one GOP staffer, as security was tightened around Capitol Hill and near the White House in response to the attack. President Trump said the gunman had died from the shootout with Capitol Police.
The office of Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) confirmed that he had been wounded, and said he was in stable condition at a Washington, D.C. hospital.
“Luckily no one appeared to be killed,” said Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), the manager of the Republican baseball team, which was gathered at a field in suburban Virginia for a regular practice, getting ready for this week’s charity Congressional baseball game.
“Several security people were hit, one of our staffers was hit, Scalise was hit,” Barton said, as he described how his young son had hid from the attack.
“Many people likely would have died this morning if not for the bravery of the Capitol Hill police,” said Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who was at the scene, but not injured.
“I was on the field, but I’m okay,” Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-GA) reported on Twitter soon after the attack. “This was a senseless act of evil.”
The Capitol Police chief told reporters that police who had returned fire had been injured while returning fire at the gunman, but said the injuries were not life threatening.
On Capitol Hill, police had closed off the plaza in front of the Capitol, but tours were still being conducted for those visiting the House and Senate.
Security was also tightened at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, as the White House Pool reported an “uptick” in the police presence around the President’s home, and in Lafayette Park, directly across the street from the White House.
Most work for House members was put on hold in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, as lawmakers were summoned to a morning security briefing.
One of the few hearings to continue in the House was a scheduled budget hearing with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
“This is an attack on our democracy, and the best response is for us to be here doing our jobs, so I thank you Mr. Secretary for being here,” said Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) at a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing.
Local police and FBI officials had little information to offer on the details, other than to say that five people were transported to area hospitals with injuries.
Early reports identified the gunman as a man from Illinois named James T. Hodgkinson. Newspaper reports from his home state said he was 66 years old, describing him as an anti-GOP activist.
“I have just been informed that the alleged shooter at the Republican baseball practice this morning is someone who apparently volunteered on my Presidential campaign,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on the floor of the Senate.
“I am sickened by this despicable act,” Sanders said, as he declared that “violence of any kind is unacceptable in our society.”
On the House floor, Speaker Paul Ryan noted the above photograph from Democrats at their own baseball practice, urging lawmakers to come together in the aftermath of this attack.
“We are united in our anguish. An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us,” the Speaker said to applause.