A long-held tradition of cordiality and light-heartedness has taken a tragic turn this morning. The Congressional Baseball Game has been a Washington D.C. tradition since 1909. The game places the Senate and House members of each political party against one another and the 2017 edition was scheduled for June 15 at Nationals Park. The Republican team had gathered for a practice this morning at a ball field about ten miles from the Capital when shots rang out.
“Five people including the House Majority Whip Steve Scalise were shot at a GOP baseball practice on Wednesday morning.
Scalise was shot in the hip by the gunman who fired between 50 and 100 rounds from his rifle before being brought down by Capitol Police.
Florida Rep. Ron DeSantis said the shooter asked the group if they were Republican or Democrat before opening fire. Two members of Scalise’s security detail were also shot and an unnamed congressional staffer was shot in the leg. The shooting took place at around 6.30am at a practice field in Alexandria, Virginia.
Also present at the practice field was Senator Rand Paul who minced no words in describing the scene and what could have been:
“I was in the batting cage at the time,” Paul recalled on MSNBC. “The first shot was sort of an isolated shot. I grew up in the South, and I just thought someone had discharged a shotgun, which isn’t that unusual in the South. But then I thought, well, we are in the city, we aren’t in the country here.”…
“I probably heard 50, 60 shots,” Paul said. “We finally heard a response from the Capitol Hill police. We’re actually very lucky they were there … One of the things that’s really fortunate — everyone probably would have died, except for the fact that the Capitol Hill police were there. The only reason they were there is because of leadership on our team.”
If they Capitol Police weren't there, “it would have been a massacre,” Rand Paul says https://t.co/8WQYhMpXcF
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) June 14, 2017
Republican Rep. Mo Brooks was also there but was not hurt. He described using his belt as a tourniquet to stop the bleeding from the congressional staffer’s leg.
Suddenly there’s this face. I noticed the guy’s got a rifle and he’s shooting at us,’ Brooks said. As he took shelter with others in the group, which also included Rep. Gary Palmer, Brooks said he watched Scalise leave a trail of blood on the field as he tried to crawl to safety.
‘He was dragging his body away from second base to get away from the shooter.’ ‘He was shot in the hip. I think it was not a life-threatening wound… There was no exit wound I could see.’ ‘There was a blood trail about 10 to 15 yards long from where he was shot to wear he crawled to right field,’ he told CNN.
Brooks caught a brief glimpse of the shooter and described him as a white, skinny, middle-aged male.
Thank heavens for good guys trained in the use of firearms and armed with guns. Rand Paul said it was a “killing field.”
While the shooter’s name, and motive have yet to be released, the fact that he shot Republicans at a Republican-only practice does give one pause.
[Note: This article was written by Derrick Wilburn]