Two Republican congressmen say they spoke with the gunman who shot House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and wounded four others on an Alexandria, Va., baseball field Wednesday and it appeared he was intentionally targeting Republicans.
Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., told Fox News that he and Rep. Ron DeSantis of Florida were leaving their regular Republican baseball practice together around 7:05 a.m. when the man, later identified as James T. Hodgkinson of Illinois, approached them.
Duncan, who plays infield for the GOP team, said the man asked him who was playing. When the congressman responded it was Republican members of the congressional baseball team, the man left while the congressmen got in their car.
The shooting started four minutes later, according to police reports, leading the South Carolinian to reach his conclusion that it was a targeted attack.
"I saw the individual. I know what he asked me. I know how I answered. I know what happened," Duncan told Fox. "So I’m making the assumption that he was targeting the Republicans based on what he did.”
Duncan said he's sure Hodgkinson was the person he spoke with before the shooting based on photos the Alexandria police circulated..
Hogkinson "apparently volunteered in Iowa" for Sen. Bernie Sanders' 2016 presidential campaign, according to his staff.
DeSantis told FOX in a separate interview that "a guy ... walked up to us that was asking whether it was Republicans or Democrats out there.”
The Florida Republican, who plays third base for the team, said the encounter seemed "a little odd." After the man walked away, DeSantis said they alerted the police about him.
In a later interview with Fox Business News, DeSantis told host Neil Cavuto that he believes Hodgkinson “is the individual who approached our car” and “wanted to know whether it was Republicans or Democrats that were out there.”
The Republican and Democratic baseball teams practice separately for the annual charity baseball game, scheduled for Thursday.
Rep. DeSantis who at baseball practice recalls: “A guy...walked up to us that was asking whether it was Republicans or Democrats out there.” pic.twitter.com/GwozCPRdve— Fox News (@FoxNews) June 14, 2017
Duncan said the tragedy was personal for him.
“The whole Congress that is going to be affected by this going forward," he said. "The world changed for us a little bit as members."