2017 Congressional baseball shooting
On June 14, 2017, in Alexandria, Virginia, Republican member of Congress and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana was shot while practicing for the annual Congressional Baseball Game for Charity, scheduled for the following day. Also shot were Crystal Griner, a U.S. Capitol Police officer assigned to protect Scalise; Zack Barth, a congressional aide; and Matt Mika, a Tyson Foods lobbyist.
|2017 Congressional baseball shooting|
|Location||Alexandria, Virginia, U.S.|
|Date||June 14, 2017
7:09 a.m. EDT
|Weapons||SKS rifle and 9mm Smith & Wesson handgun|
|6 (4 by gunfire); 1 in critical condition|
A ten-minute shootout ensued between the shooter—James Hodgkinson of Belleville, Illinois, a left-wing activist—and officers from the Capitol and Alexandria Police. Officers shot Hodgkinson, who died from his wounds later that day at the George Washington University Hospital.
Scalise and Mika were taken to nearby hospitals, where they underwent surgery. Scalise is the first sitting member of Congress to have been shot since Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords was shot in 2011.
The Virginia Attorney General concluded it was “fueled by rage against Republican legislators, ” and “an act of terrorism.”
The shooting took place on June 14, 2017, at Eugene Simpson Stadium Park in Alexandria, Virginia, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. There were 24 Republican congressmen who had gathered at the park to practice for the next day's Congressional Baseball Game for Charity, an annual, bipartisan event first held in 1909. Among those at the practice, aside from Scalise, were Senators Rand Paul and Jeff Flake, and Representatives Roger Williams (the team's coach), Chuck Fleischmann, Trent Kelly, Mo Brooks, Brad Wenstrup, Rodney Davis, Jeff Duncan, and Joe Barton (the team's manager).
According to Representatives Ron DeSantis and Jimmy Duncan, they were approached before the shooting at the practice by a man who asked whether Republicans or Democrats were practicing on the field. Duncan reportedly replied that it was the Republican team. DeSantis later told reporters that both he and Duncan believe that the man was the perpetrator of the shooting, James Hodgkinson.
Three Capitol Police officers were present at the practice to protect Scalise, who, due to his House leadership position, has a full-time security detail assigned to protect him. They were posted behind the first-base dugout on that day.
The practice had been underway for about half an hour when James Hodgkinson began firing. According to the Capitol Police, he was armed with an SKS rifle and a 9mm Smith & Wesson handgun, both of which he had apparently purchased legally. It was unclear if Hodgkinson used the handgun during the shooting incident.
When Hodgkinson opened fire, two of the officers, David Bailey and Crystal Griner, rushed onto the field to protect the congressmen and the other civilians. Hodgkinson hid behind the third base dugout as the third Capitol Police officer, Henry Cabrera, took aim at him from behind the first base dugout.
At 7:09 am, the Alexandria Police received a 9-1-1 report of shots fired. Two police officers arrived within three minutes and also engaged Hodgkinson in a gunfight. Witnesses estimated between 50 and 100 shots were fired during the shootout, which lasted about 10 minutes before Hodgkinson was shot by two Alexandria Police and two Capitol Police officers.
Scalise, who was at second base when the shooting started, was shot in the hip and tried to drag himself off the field. While the shooting was still going on, Rep. Mo Brooks used his belt as a tourniquet to help stop bleeding for a staffer who had been shot in the calf. After the shooting ended, Brooks and Rep. Brad Wenstrup—a podiatrist who also served with the Army's 344th Combat Support Hospital—were able to assist Scalise.
Several witnesses said their lives were saved by the presence of the Capitol Police, who were there because of Scalise's position as the House Majority Whip. The Capitol Police immediately engaged Hodgkinson and kept him pinned down, preventing him from continuing to fire on the unarmed baseball players. Rep. Davis and Sen. Rand Paul separately said that if not for the presence of the officers, the incident "would have been a massacre."
Scalise was shot in the hip and was evacuated by a U.S. Park Police helicopter to MedStar Washington Hospital Center, where he underwent surgery. The hospital reported that after the bullet struck his hip, it traveled across his pelvis – fracturing bones, injuring internal organs, and causing severe bleeding. His condition was initially listed as "critical". He received multiple blood transfusions and underwent several surgeries to repair internal damage and stop the bleeding. His condition was upgraded to "serious" on June 17. It further improved to "fair" on June 21, though he was readmitted to intensive care on July 5 due to concerns of infection.
Matt Mika, a Tyson Foods lobbyist, was shot multiple times in the chest and arm, injuring his lungs, sternum and ribs. He is a former baseball player and former legislative assistant for Congressmen Tim Walberg and Dave Camp, both Republicans from Michigan. Mika was taken to the George Washington University Hospital where he underwent surgery for his injuries. He was in critical condition immediately following surgery. The day after the shooting, his condition was upgraded from critical to serious. On June 23, he was released from the hospital.
David Bailey and Crystal Griner, two of the Capitol Police officers assigned to protect Scalise, were both injured. Griner was shot in the ankle and was hospitalized in what was described as good condition. Bailey was treated and released after sustaining a minor injury not caused by gunfire.
Williams, a former Minor League Baseball player and the coach of the Republican team, sprained his ankle while jumping into a dugout during the attack to avoid being shot. He was still using a crutch for support as of July 9.
Police identified the shooter as James Thomas Hodgkinson, aged 66, whose last permanent residence was in Belleville, Illinois. He was severely injured in the shootout and transported to the George Washington University Hospital, where he died from his injuries.
The St. Clair County Sheriff said that deputies had been called to Hodgkinson's house about half a dozen times in the past 20 years. In 2006, Hodgkinson was accused of beating his foster daughter and charged with domestic battery but the case was dismissed when the alleged victim refused to testify. Had Hodgkinson been convicted, he would have been unable to legally purchase firearms.
In March 2017, a neighbor called police to complain about Hodgkinson firing a rifle at trees in their residential neighborhood. The officers who responded checked Hodgkinson's gun permit, then advised him not to shoot in the area but did not conduct an arrest.
Hodgkinson owned a home inspection business that had an expired license at the time of the shooting. Investigators believe that he had been living in a van in Alexandria for about six weeks at the time of the shooting. Witnesses say he often parked the van near the ball field and nearby YMCA, and was a frequent visitor to the YMCA. According to Tim Slater of the FBI's Washington field office, Hodgkinson "was running out of money. He was not employed at the time of the event, and he was looking for some local employment. He was married for 30 years, and it appears that that marriage was not going so well. It was just a pattern of life where you could tell things were not going well."
Hodgkinson had participated in the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign during the 2016 United States presidential election, and was described by a fellow campaigner in Iowa as a "quiet guy, very mellow, very reserved."
On May 22, 2017, Hodgkinson wrote "Trump is a Traitor. Trump Has Destroyed Our Democracy. It's Time to Destroy Trump & Co." above his repost of a Change.org petition demanding "the legal removal" of Trump and Vice President Mike Pence for "treason". He belonged to numerous political Facebook groups, including those named "Terminate the Republican Party," "The Road To Hell Is Paved With Republicans," and "Donald Trump is not my President."
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, which took over the investigation, said on June 14 that it was too early to ascribe a motive for the shootings. It put out a request for public assistance with "any information regarding Hodgkinson."
On June 16, 2017, USA Today reported, citing an anonymous source, that the Federal Bureau of Investigation found a list of names, including those of Republican Congressmen Mo Brooks, Jeff Duncan and Trent Franks, in Hodgkinson's pocket.
On June 21, FBI agent Timothy Slater said the names of six congressmen were written on a piece of paper found in an Alexandria storage locker rented to Hodgkinson. He said it did not appear to be a hit list, and that its significance was unclear.
The attack drew a bipartisan response as many politicians immediately sent out notes expressing their anger over the shooting, recovery wishes for the injured and gratitude for the police. News of the shooting and injuries quickly reached the Democratic Congressional Baseball players, who were at their own practice at another location when the shooting occurred. They gathered together in the dugout to pray for the injured.
President Donald Trump addressed the nation saying, "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." President Trump and his wife Melania visited Scalise and Griner in the hospital. While at the hospital, the Trumps spoke with Scalise's family and with Griner and her wife. On July 27, 2017, Trump awarded the Medal of Valor to five of the officers who were injured in the shooting.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R–WI) addressed the House of Representatives before their afternoon session and said, "An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us." Members of both parties rose in applause to his remarks.
Former Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D–AZ), who survived being shot in the head at a constituent event in 2011, sent a tweet that read "My heart is with my former colleagues, their families and staff, and the US Capitol Police—public servants and heroes today and every day."
I have just been informed that the alleged shooter at the Republican baseball practice is someone who apparently volunteered on my presidential campaign. I am sickened by this despicable act. Let me be as clear as I can be, violence of any kind is unacceptable in our society and I condemn this action in the strongest possible terms. Real change can only come about through nonviolent action, and anything else runs counter to our most deeply held American values.
Reactions to the shooting among political activists were split. Some liberals, like Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, called for stricter gun control laws, while some Republicans, like Chris Collins, blamed anti-Trump rhetoric. Other activists blamed growing national polarization for causing the shooting.
Effect on the 2017 Congressional Baseball GameEdit
|2017 Congressional Baseball Game, June 15, 2017, C-SPAN|
The annual game has usually attracted a crowd of about 10,000 people, but this year, more than 20,000 tickets were sold, bringing in more than $1 million for charity. David Bailey, one of the two Capitol Police officers injured in the shootout, threw out the first pitch. Relying on crutches because of his injury, he received a standing ovation from the crowd of 24,959 in Nationals Park. The Democratic team defeated the Republican team 11–2, but loaned the trophy to the Republicans until Scalise finished his recovery.
- Cornwell, Susan; Morgan, David (June 15, 2017). "U.S. congressman in critical condition after third surgery". Reuters. Retrieved February 27, 2018.
- "FBI joint statement". FBI.gov. Retrieved June 16, 2017.
- "Sources: Gun used in Scalise shooting was legally purchased". WTOP.com. Retrieved June 16, 2017.
- Diaz, Daniella; Love, Alysha. "Alexandria shooting: Live updates on the shooting at a congressional baseball practice in Virginia". CNN. Retrieved June 14, 2017.
- Hermann, Peter; Phillips, Amber; Kane, Paul; Weiner, Rachel (June 14, 2017). "Lawmaker Steve Scalise is critically injured in GOP baseball shooting; gunman James T. Hodgkinson is killed by police". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 14, 2017.
- Pergram, Chad. "Virginia GOP baseball practice shooting: Multiple people shot". Fox News Channel. Retrieved June 14, 2017.
- Oliver Laughland; Jon Swaine (June 15, 2017). "Virginia shooting: gunman was leftwing activist with record of domestic violence". The Guardian. Retrieved June 21, 2017.
- Matt Pierce; Joseph Tanfani (June 14, 2017). "Virginia gunman hated Republicans, and 'was always in his own little world'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 21, 2017.
- de Vries, Karl; Scott, Eugene (June 14, 2017). "Rep. Scalise shot in Virginia". CNN. Retrieved July 1, 2017.
- Staff. "Hospital: House Majority Whip Steve Scalise in critical condition after surgery". AOL. Retrieved June 15, 2017.
- Yadidi, Noa (June 14, 2017). "Giffords tweets support following baseball practice shooting". CNN. Retrieved June 14, 2017.
- Alexander, Harriet. "Senior Republican politician Steve Scalise and several aides shot at baseball practice near Washington DC". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved June 14, 2017.
- Tovey, Josephine (July 1, 2017). "US Congressman Steve Scalise hit in shooting in Washington DC suburb". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved June 14, 2017.
- Roxas, Gabriel (June 14, 2017). "Congressman Joe Barton's Hometown Grateful He Survived Shooting". KTVT. Retrieved June 15, 2017.
- "President Trump says the congressional baseball practice shooter has died". WBKO. Associated Press. June 14, 2017. Retrieved June 15, 2017.
- Watson, Kathryn. "This is the baseball game congressmen were preparing for when they heard shots". CBS News. Retrieved June 15, 2017.
- Barfield Berry, Deborah (June 14, 2017). "Rep. Trent Kelly on congressional baseball shooting: 'We were under attack'". USA Today. Retrieved June 15, 2017.
- Silva, Daniella (June 14, 2017). "Rep. DeSantis: Shooting Suspect Asked if 'Republicans or Democrats' on Field". NBC News. Retrieved January 12, 2018.
- "Alexandria shooting heroes credited with preventing massacre". CBS News. June 15, 2017. Retrieved June 15, 2017.
- "Top Republican Steve Scalise wounded in multiple shooting". BBC News. February 27, 2018. Retrieved June 14, 2017.
- McCausland, Phil (June 14, 2017). "'It would have been a massacre': Capitol Police officers hailed as heroes after shooting". NBC News. Retrieved February 27, 2018.
- Smith, Aaron (June 16, 2017). "The long history of the gun used in the GOP baseball attack". CNN.
- "Baseball shooting: Alexandria police chief praises officers who braved hail of bullets". WTOP. 2017-06-19. Retrieved 2017-06-23.
- "House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and others shot at congressional baseball practice". PBS NewsHour. June 14, 2017. Retrieved July 1, 2017.
- Kamisar, Ben (June 14, 2017). "GOP rep recounts using belt as tourniquet at baseball practice shooting". The Hill. Retrieved February 27, 2018.
- "Rep. Rodney Davis: "This Would Have Been A Massacre" If Not For Capitol Police". CBS News. June 14, 2017. Retrieved February 27, 2018.
- Singman, Brooke (June 14, 2017). "Capitol Police credited with preventing 'massacre' by stopping shooter". Fox News Channel. Retrieved July 1, 2017.
- House, Billy (July 31, 2017). "Capitol Police Responded to Wrong Site in Scalise Shooting". Bloomberg News. Retrieved February 27, 2018.
- "Update on Rep. Scalise's condition: Internal injuries, severe bleeding, more operations needed". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 15, 2017.
- Ventura, Charles (June 15, 2017). "Rep. Scalise remains in critical condition, will be in the hospital 'for some time'". USA Today. Retrieved February 27, 2018.
- "Scalise Shooting: GOP congressman upgraded from 'critical' to 'serious' condition". Fox News Channel. June 17, 2017. Retrieved February 27, 2018.
- "Rep. Steve Scalise's Condition Upgraded To 'Fair' After Baseball Field Shooting". NPR. June 21, 2017. Retrieved February 27, 2018.
- CNN, Diane Ruggiero and Madison Park. "Rep. Steve Scalise back in intensive care unit". CNN. Retrieved February 27, 2018.
- Bade, Rachael; Meyer, Theodoric; Lauinger, John; Cheney, Kyle (June 14, 2017). "Who were the people injured at Wednesday's baseball practice shooting?". Politico. Retrieved February 27, 2018.
- "Rep. Williams identifies injured staffer". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 27, 2018.
- Miller, Michael. "Lobbyist Matt Mika identified as one of those wounded". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 14, 2017.
- Todd Spangler (2017-06-15). "Matt Mika, lobbyist wounded in congressional shooting, still in critical condition". Usatoday.com. Retrieved February 27, 2018.
- Wener, Erica; Day, Chad (February 27, 2018). "Congress seeks normalcy, heads back to work after shooting". WBAY. Associated Press. Retrieved June 15, 2017.
- White, Max (June 15, 2017). "MI native Matt Mika upgraded to serious condition after Virginia shooting". WXYZ. Retrieved February 27, 2018.
- Zaniewski, Ann (June 23, 2017). "Shooting victim Mika released from hospital". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved February 27, 2018.
- Rupar, Terri. "House Speaker Ryan identifies injured Capitol Police officers". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 27, 2018.
- Hamedy, Saba (June 15, 2017). "Congressional baseball practice shooting: What we know about the victims". CNN. Retrieved February 27, 2018.
- Pramuk, Jacob (June 14, 2017). "GOP Rep. Steve Scalise shot at congressional baseball practice in Virginia". CNBC. Associated Press. Retrieved February 27, 2018.
- Viser, Matt; Linskey, Annie; Herndon, Astead W. (June 14, 2017). "Alexandria shooting's bloody trail leaves capital shaken". Boston Globe. Retrieved February 27, 2018.
- "Congressman Steve Scalise and others shot at Alexandria, Virginia, park". NBC News. Retrieved February 27, 2018.
- "Rep. Roger Williams is back on track after June shooting at GOP baseball practice". Dallas News. 2017-07-09. Retrieved February 27, 2018.
- "Seeking Information: James T. Hodgkinson – Deceased" (PDF). Federal Bureau of Investigation. Retrieved February 27, 2018.
- "James T. Hodgkinson, 66-year-old suspect in Alexandria shooting, dies of injuries". CBS News. June 14, 2017. Retrieved February 27, 2018.
- Gutowski, Christy (June 14, 2017). "In Belleville, alleged gunman remembered 'as a very irascible, angry little man'". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved June 15, 2017.
- Natter, Ari (June 15, 2017). "Scalise Gunman Dodged 2006 Charge That Would Bar Gun Purchases". Bloomberg News. Retrieved February 27, 2018.
- Marrimow, Ann (June 14, 2017). "Emerging portrait of shooting suspect James T. Hodgkinson: anti-Trump rhetoric on social media, repeat visits to YMCA near Virginia ballfield". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 14, 2017.
- Nuckols, Ben. Associated Press. (June 21, 2017). "FBI: Gunman Who Shot Congressman Had No Target in Mind", U.S. News & World Report, June 23, 2017.
- Costa, Robert (June 14, 2017). "Acquaintance describes campaigning for Bernie Sanders with shooting suspect". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 27, 2018.
- Pagliery, Jose (June 14, 2017). "Suspect in congressional shooting was Bernie Sanders supporter, strongly anti-Trump". CNN. Retrieved February 27, 2018.
- "Hodgkinson letters: 'I have never said life sucks, only the policies of the Republicans'". Belleville News-Democrat. June 14, 2017.
- Weill, Kelly; Zavadski, Katie; Kerr, Emma. "Congressional Shooter Loved Bernie Sanders, Hated 'Racist & Sexist' Republicans". The Daily Beast. Retrieved June 14, 2017.
- Eversley, Melanie (June 16, 2017). "Gunman in congressional baseball shooting had list of names in his pocket". USA Today. Retrieved February 27, 2018.
- "Virginia shooter created list of six congressmen, but FBI stops short of calling it a hit list". CNBC. June 21, 2017.
- Julie Turkewitz. "'I Want This to Get Over': After Congressional Shooting, Complex Grief for a Gunman's Widow". The New York Times. Retrieved 2017-07-01.
- Rep. Ruben J. Kihuen [@RepKihuen] (June 15, 2017). ".@HouseDemocrats praying for our @HouseGOP @SenateGOP baseball colleagues after hearing about the horrific shooting" (Tweet). Retrieved February 27, 2018 – via Twitter.
- "Shooting in Alexandria, Virginia, wounds congressman, officers". CBS News. Retrieved June 14, 2017.
- "Trump makes hospital visit after congressional baseball shooting". CNN. June 14, 2017.
- Superville, Darlene (July 27, 2017). "Trump honors 1st responders of congressional baseball attack". WBRC. Associated Press. Retrieved July 28, 2017.
- "Paul Ryan: An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us". New York Post. Retrieved June 14, 2017.
- Difazio, Joe (June 14, 2017). "Bernie Sanders Reacts To Alexandria Shooter Serving As A Campaign Volunteer". International Business Times. Retrieved February 27, 2018.
- Lee, Kurtis (June 14, 2017). "Another shooting, and once more Democrats call for gun control, while Republicans defend gun rights". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 27, 2018.
- "Political Polarization". Pew Research Center.
- Stanage, Niall (June 15, 2017). "The Memo: After shooting, soul-searching on United States' polarization". The Hill. Retrieved February 27, 2018.
- Stein, Sam; Fuller, Matt (June 14, 2017). "Congressional Baseball Game Will Go on After Shooting". The Huffington Post. Retrieved February 27, 2018.
- "Congressional baseball game goes on in wake of shooting". BBC News. June 15, 2017. Retrieved June 15, 2017.
- Becker, Amanda (June 16, 2017). "Annual U.S. Congress baseball game brings unity after shooting". Reuters. Retrieved February 27, 2018.
- Watson, Kathryn (June 15, 2017). "Congressional Baseball Game carries on, one day after shooting". CBS News. Retrieved February 27, 2018.
- Media related to 2017 congressional baseball shooting at Wikimedia Commons
- News related to shooter targets Congressional baseball practice in Virginia, six hospitalized at Wikinews