Shooter targeted Republican lawmakers, confirmed dead

Lawmakers say that shooter asked them if team was Republican prior to attack

Joshua Roberts—Reuters
ATF agents investigate a shooting scene after a gunman opened fire on Republican members of Congress during a baseball practice near Washington in Alexandria

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A gunman who opened fire on a group of congressmen, staffers, Capitol Police, and children as they practiced for a charity baseball game early Wednesday morning, may have been deliberately targeting Republicans. Five people were wounded and transported medically from the baseball field in Alexandria, Virginia. Among the injured was Majority Whip Steve Scalise, congressional staffer Zack Barth, lobbyist Matt Mika, and two Capitol police officers, Crystal Griner and David Bailey.Pres. Donald Trump appeared at a press conference a little after 11:30am, revealing that the shooter was shot and killed. He expressed his sympathies for the wounded and called Scalise a “very good friend, patriot, and a fighter.”The assailant, who was armed with a rifle, has been identified by federal law enforcement officials as James T. Hodgkinson, 66, of Belleville, Illinois. Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) told reporters that he left the field just a few minutes before shots rang out, and believes he had an interaction with Hodgkinson. Duncan says he told Alexandria police that a man, meeting the description of the shooter, asked him if the team practicing were Democrats or Republicans. He answered that they were Republicans. A few minutes later, the shooting began.Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) confirmed the encounter, saying the two lawmakers left the practice together to beat traffic back to the Hill. “An individual approached us in a very direct, somewhat hostile tone, asking whether it was Republicans or Democrats that were practicing,” DeSantis recounted to Fox Business this morning. “The guy immediately turned around and walked toward the field. It was a little strange.”After news broke, Duncan and DeSantis contacted the police with the information, both agreeing they thought Hodgkinson was the individual that approached them. Based on the question, Duncan says he believes that Hodgkinson was targeting Republicans. A Facebook page that appears to be Hodgkinson’s has several anti-Trump postings and comments.Rep. Steve Scalise from Louisiana was shot in the hip during the early morning attack. He was tended to by fellow lawmakers including Brad Wenstrup, an Ohio congressman who is a physician, before being airlifted to a nearby hospital.Trump, in a press conference from the White House, says he has been in contact with the congressman’s wife, Jennifer Scalise, and that he is in serious condition.Two of the wounded were Capitol Hill police who were at the scene and who engaged in a gunfight with the shooter, witnesses said. It is likely that these officers were only at the practice because Scalise, No. 3 in the House of Representatives Republican leadership, was in attendance. Rank and file members of Congress do not receive security detail.Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN), still in his ‘Republicans’ baseball uniform, told reporters on the Hill that the officers kept the shooter from moving forward, “We were like sitting ducks in the dugout.”It is unclear of the extent of the injuries Griner and Bailey have suffered.Barth, an aide to Rep. Roger Williams of Texas is receiving medical attention at a hospital, according to a press release from the congressman, and is reported to have posted on Facebook that he is “okay.”Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), who was on the field at the time, confirmed that Matt Mika a former Hill staffer and current lobbyist for Tyson Foods was shot in the chest. Mika’s current condition is unclear.Flake told reporters that the practice, which usually runs from 6:30 to 7:30am, was the Republican’s final gathering before the charity game that is played every year against Democrats at National Park. The lighthearted event is a long standing Washington tradition that brings together Representatives and Senators from both sides of the aisle for a good cause. Flake says they have raised close to $650,000 this year for underprivileged kids in D.C. Hours after the shooting, organizers announced that the Congressional Baseball Game, scheduled for Thursday, will still go on.Updated at 1:00pm with names of Capitol Police officers.Reuters News Service contributed to this article.