Congressman, 3 others injured in Virginia shooting

Alexandria, Vir.- House Majority Whip Steve Scalise was among at least four people wounded Wednesday morning when a gunman opened fire during a congressional baseball practice at an Alexandria, Virginia, park.

The Republican lawmaker was transported to MedStar Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C., where he was in stable condition and undergoing surgery. Scalise was injured in the hip.

“Prior to entering surgery, the Whip was in good spirits and spoke to his wife by phone,” Scalise’s office said in a statement. “He is grateful for the brave actions of U.S. Capitol Police, first responders, and colleagues.”

Two Capitol Police officers were also wounded and their injuries are not considered life-threatening.

A statement from Congressman Roger Williams’ office said the Texas Republican was not wounded, but a member of his staff was shot and taken to the hospital. “Please keep the member of my staff and all members of the congressional baseball team in your thoughts and prayers,” Williams tweeted.

Alexandria Police Chief Michael Brown said five people were taken to local hospitals, including the suspect, following the shooting, which began shortly after 7 a.m. Brown declined to give conditions or identify the victims.

A spokeswoman for George Washington Hospital said two patients were brought to the facility and listed in critical condition, but declined further comment.

Brown said officers at the scene returned gunfire with the suspect, who was eventually taken into custody and is no longer a threat.

‘”It’s an active scene. We’re having a lot of people to interview,” Brown said.

Multiple law enforcement officials with knowledge of the investigation told NBC News that at there was no immediate indication that the shooter has ties to international terrorism.

Both Democratic and GOP members of the House and Senate have been using the baseball field each morning in Alexandria’s Del Ray neighborhood in preparation for a bipartisan game scheduled for Thursday. The Democrats had reportedly practiced earlier in the morning. Thursday’s game was supposed to honor the victims of recent terror attacks in Manchester and London.

Sen. Rand Paul, who was at the batting cages at the field, told MSNBC that Scalise as a House leader always has Capitol Police with him as security detail. Scalise has represented Louisiana’s 1st District since 2008. It was not immediately clear if the wounded officer was part of Scalise’s detail.

“There was a rapid succession of shots, you know five or 10 shots,” Paul said. “In the field, I see Representative Scalise is shot but moving, and he’s trying to drag himself through the dirt and out into the outfield.”

“I probably heard 50-60 shots,” Rand added. “Then finally we heard the response from the Capitol Hill police.”

Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, a center fielder on the GOP’s baseball team, said he was standing along the first base line when gunfire erupted. He took cover in the dugout, where he helped a congressional aide who had been shot in the leg near center field. He estimated at least 50 shots were fired.

The shooter “could have fired into the dugout,” Flake told MSNBC. “We had somebody yell after about 10 minutes, ‘Shooter’s down!’ And so, I sprinted out to Steve and put pressure on the wound.”

Flake said he used part of a jersey to suppress the bleeding.

“He was coherent. He was asking for water,” Flake said of his colleague. “He was bleeding quite a bit.”

Rep. Brad Wenstrup of Ohio, a doctor, was at the practice and helped treat the victims, Flake said.

Another congressman, Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama, used his belt as a tourniquet on one of the victim’s legs, the senator added.

Flake described the shooter as possibly being in his 40s, with dark hair and wearing a blue shirt.

Rep. Steve Pearce of New Mexico tweeted that he was at the GOP’s baseball practice and was “alright.”

Officials with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were en route to the shooting scene to assist in the investigation along with the FBI.

Local residents told NBC News that the volley of gunfire rang out at the ball field at Eugene Simpson Stadium Park, which includes a soccer field and dog run, and neighbors a YMCA. Children were walking to a school approximately a block away.

Stuart Claggett, who was walking his dog near the fields, said he heard the shots go off “like fireworks.”

“They were fairly loud, but it wasn’t like a machine gun. It stopped for a tiny amount of time,” Claggett said.

He added that “some people might know that’s where (members of Congress) play” baseball.

Leonard Crook said he was working out on the main floor of the YMCA, about 50 yards from the ball field, when a woman was frantically banging on the door of the facility, trying to get in.

“Some bullets hit the Y, so we went into the basement and everyone stayed there until everything blew over. We were locked down in the Y and not allowed to go anywhere,” Crook said.

President Donald Trump released a statement after being briefed on the shooting and canceled his planned remarks at the Department of Labor for later Wednesday.

“The Vice President and I are aware of the shooting incident in Virginia and are monitoring developments closely,” he said. “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.”

Trump later added, “Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, a true friend and patriot, was badly injured but will fully recover. Our thoughts and prayers are with him.”

The Capitol Police said, “out of an abundance of caution” they “deployed a robust police presence throughout the Capitol Complex,” but all buildings remain open.

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