Local congress members are sending their condolences following a shooting at a Republican congressional team practice in Alexandria, Virginia. The shooting occurred Wednesday morning. The suspect has been identified as James Hodgkinson, 66, of Belleville, Illinois.
Rodney Davis, a Republican from Illinois’ 13th district, witnessed the shooting but was not injured. He said he was up to bat during the morning baseball practice when he heard a loud noise. Congressman Davis said at first he thought the loud noise was coming from a construction area until he heard the terrifying words 'run he's got a gun.'
“I did just that. I dove in the dugout and ran away from home plate,” he said. “I worked my way out of the dugout to safer territory then eventually across the street behind cars.”
He said a “good samaritan” in an apartment building across the street told Davis to come in to take shelter.
An emotional Congressman Davis said he never would've thought he would be at a baseball field and have to dodge bullets.
“I’ve taken for granted what I consider safe environments not only in Washington but back home. But, I know I personally will be more cognizant and will likely make decisions based upon what I went through today.
But, the moment, he said he will never forget is when he saw his friend and colleague, Congressman Steve Scalise, lying on the ground motionless.
He called this morning a tragic day in American history, but says it could have been a lot worst if it wasn't for two Capitol police personnel.
“If they weren't there aggressively pushing back against this mad man, it would have been a massacre of proportions we haven't witnessed,” Rep. (R) IL Davis said. “I just can't thank them enough. By God's grace, every one of the good guys is on the path to recovery.”
He said he doesn't know if Scalise or anyone, in particular, was the target of Hodgkinson, but he believes that it was not random that the man was shooting at the baseball field. Congressman Davis says polarization of politics and hateful rhetoric on both sides of the aisle could have been what led to the shooting.
“We can disagree on policies, but we have the ability as Americans to disagree on policies because that's what makes our country great,” he said. “If you don't like policies of someone that's elected, change them at the ballot box. But be respectful and kind, but stop the hateful, hateful rhetoric.”
Congressman Davis said today has to be the day, where politicians, the media and voters come together to stop the hateful and divisive political rhetoric that has now led to violence. He said he's going to do everything he can to share that message at the Capitol.
He said his job now is going to be to not focus on the areas where he and his Democratic colleagues disagree, but rather highlight the good work congress does together. He added this moment should bring everyone together and this is our chance as a country to make it better.
Illinois Congressman John Shimkus has a personal connection to one of the victims. In a statement, he said, "My prayers are with my good friend and DC roommate, Steve Scalise, as well as the Capitol Police officers, members, staff and all those affected by today's shooting."
Missouri Congresswoman Ann Wagner reacted to the shootings on Twitter, saying, "My thoughts and prayers are with Steve Scalise, Capitol Police and all of those involved in the shooting this morning."
Local Senators are reacting to the attack as well.
Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill said, "What unspeakable evil. I'm praying that Representative Scalise, these courageous officers, and everyone else affected will be ok,” she said. "There should be no partisanship here—we should come together against evil, united by our common decency."
Illinois Senator Dick Durbin said, "Our hearts go out to the victims of a tragic shooting this morning,” he said. "We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the United States Capitol Police... who put their lives on the line this morning and each and every day to keep members, staff, and visitors safe."
Thoughts, prayers, & wishes for speedy recovery to Cong. Scalise, Capitol Hill police, and other victims of this morning's DC shooting. #fgs— Francis G. Slay (@MayorSlay) June 14, 2017
Unspeakable evil. Pray that Rep Scalise, police officers and everyone else will be ok.— Claire McCaskill (@clairecmc) June 14, 2017
My staff and I are safe. Thoughts and prayers are with my colleagues and staff at the Congressional baseball practice this morning.— Blaine Luetkemeyer (@RepBlainePress) June 14, 2017
Praying for @SteveScalise and all others involved in the shooting at GOP Congressional baseball practice this morning.— Rep. Jason Smith (@RepJasonSmith) June 14, 2017
Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO) statement
Terrible news this morning. My prayers are with everyone affected by this, including Majority Whip Steve Scalise and the members of the U.S. Capitol Police who keep the Capitol safe every day.
U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill released this statement
I think all of us are waiting to exhale until we learn more details about our colleagues and our staff members and our police officers. But make no mistake about it, what we saw this morning was evil… Our freedoms like freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion define us as a nation. And no evil should ever be allowed to distort those premises. Ever.
Congressman John Shimkus (R, Illinois-15) released the following statement regarding the shooting at this morning’s practice for the annual Congressional Baseball Game for charity. The congressman was not at practice today.
“My prayers are with my good friend and DC roommate, Steve Scalise, as well as the Capitol Police officers, Members, staff and all those affected by today’s shooting. While we don’t yet fully know the motive behind this shameful act of evil, there is no doubt the heroism of the Capitol Police saved lives this morning. I am deeply thankful for their bravery, and I hope for speedy recoveries for all those wounded in this cowardly assault.”
U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) released the following statement regarding this morning’s shooting in Alexandria, Virginia:
“This is a sad day for all Americans, regardless of political affiliation. We can all agree that these sorts of actions simply have no place in civil society, and we should do much more to prevent this sort of needless violence. I wish all the victims a speedy recovery and look forward to seeing my former House colleagues, Congressional staffers and Capitol Police officers back on the Hill soon. I also want to thank all the first responders for their bravery in risking their lives this morning—without their efforts, today could have been even worse.”
U.S. Representative Mike Bost (IL-12) issued the following statement regarding this morning’s shooting of House GOP Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), members of his security detail, and Capitol Hill staff in Alexandria, Virginia:
“James Hodgkinson contacted my office 10 times, beginning in June 2016 and continuing through May of this year. While he continually expressed his opposition to the Republican agenda in Congress, the correspondence never appeared threatening or raised concerns that anger would turn to physical action. Had we any indication that Mr. Hodgkinson posed a threat to anyone’s safety, we would have taken the appropriate steps to alert U.S. Capitol Police immediately. My prayers continue to be with Steve Scalise, as well as members of the security detail and congressional staff who were injured in this heartless attack.”