Gunman fires on Alexandria park during GOP baseball practice; lawmaker Scalise among wounded
Reba Winstead lives in Alexandria, Va. and describes what she saw on June 14 when a gunman opened fire on GOP congressional baseball practice. (WUSA9)
(Washington Post) — A gunman opened fire Wednesday morning on a baseball practice at a park in Alexandria involving Republican members of Congress, injuring several people including at least one lawmaker, Steve Scalise, the majority whip, according to police and a congressman.
Alexandria police would only confirm that a shooting at Eugene Simpson Stadium Parkhad occurred and that one person was in custody.
Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), in an interview with The Washington Post, confirmed early details. King said Capitol Police confirmed the account to him.
Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) told The Post that Capitol Police officers walked into the congressional gym around 7:30 a.m. Wednesday and told members about the shooting and said Scalise had been shot.
Scalise, from Louisiana, is the third-highest ranking House Republican and has a round-the-clock Capitol Police detail.
President Trump issued this statement: “The vice president and I are aware of the shooting incident in Virginia and are monitoring developments closely. 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.”
Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) tweeted that a “shooter attacked a GOP baseball practice. Rifle. 50+ shots fired. 5 hit including Steve Scalise. I am not shot.” He estimated 50 to 100 shots were fired.
Scalise, who has been in Congress since 2008, represents a district that includes some New Orleans suburbs and bayou parishes. Before entering Congress, he was a lawmaker in Louisiana for eight years. Scalise and his wife, Jennifer, have two children and live in Jefferson, La.
The 7:30 a.m. gathering in the park in the 400 block of East Monroe Street was the final practice before Thursday night’s scheduled game between Republicans and Democrats at Nationals Park. The park is near the Potomac Yard shopping center on Route 1 and Old Town Alexandria. It has two well-groomed baseball fields, one big and one smaller, for little leaguers. It is adjacent to a YMCA and across the street from a CVS and an Aldi grocery store.
Katie Fillus of Alexandria had just gotten out of her car to walk her dogs in the park nearby when she said she heard “very, very loud popping sounds.”
“And a I knew a baseball team was practicing, and everybody started screaming: ‘Hit the ground! Hit the ground!’
She said she laid flat in the field as the gunshots grew louder — “like he was walking across the field toward all of us, the gunman, and I was screaming: ‘Can someone help me? I have my dogs and I can’t get behind anything.’ ”
Police are investigating reports of a shooting in Alexandria, Va. on June 14. (WUSA9)
Fillus said a police agent pulled out a gun and tried to shoot back. “He was screaming, “Drop your weapon!’ And he shot her and she fell on the ground. She fell on the ground in front of us, and we were all just trying to lay as flat we could. And I belly crawled, dragging through the mud. I got to the car and I ducked under the car and I laid as close as I could under the car to hide from the person. Then the police seemed to come.”
Brooks told CNN that he heard a loud “bam” behind third base.
“I see a rifle, and I see a little bit of a body and then I hear another bam and I realize there’s still an active shooter. At the same time I hear Steve Scalise over at second base scream — he was shot,” he said.
Brooks said he ran to the first-base side and hid behind a batting cage as gunfire continued.
He said Scalise crawled out of the outfield leaving a trail of blood, and that he was given liquids and pressure was put on a chest wound.
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) was at the gym on Capitol Hill when he was informed, according to two GOP lawmakers who saw him there. They said he immediately stopped his workout and headed out to handle the situation, guided by his own Capitol Police detail, which is always at his side. The lawmakers spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the speaker’s movements.
As Ryan left and after Capitol Police briefly told members about the shooting, the gym quickly went quiet and members quickly packed up their belongings to head to their offices, the lawmakers said.
“Nobody knew what the hell was going on,” one of the Republicans said. “People just left.”
There is a slightly-heavier-than-normal police presence outside the U.S. Capitol with uniformed officers stationed at all entrances as normal but more officers guarding the East Front with long weapons. Tourists are still milling about for scheduled tours or visits to members’ offices.
There was one notable departure from the normal level of protection inside he building: Three uniformed officers stood watch outside the first-floor office of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).