WASHINGTON – Reactions have been swift and passionate from government officials following the senseless shooting at a Republican congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia, that critically wounded House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and injured several others.
According to the most recent FBI briefing on the shooting, the alleged gunman has been identified as James T. Hodgkinson, 66, of Illinois, who is said to have opened fire with a rifle Wednesday, June 14 at approximately 7 a.m. local time during a practice session ahead of a charity baseball game.
Capitol Police officers in Scalise’s security detail returned fire, and Hodgkinson later died from his injuries, according to reports from The Associated Press.
Scalise, who took a bullet to the hip remained in critical condition as of Thursday afternoon after an initial surgery Wednesday. More surgeries are planned in Scalise's treatment as his internal injuries have been discovered to be more extensive than first believed.
President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump made a visit to MedStar Washington Hospital where Scalise and Capitol Police officer Crystal Griner are both being treated.
Congressman Markwayne Mullin (OK District-2) who was in Washington with his family during the incident released a statement Wednesday morning expressing sadness and zero tolerance for such acts of violence.
“I’m deeply saddened by today’s tragic events at the Republican congressional baseball team practice," said Mullin. "While we continue to learn about what took place this morning, one thing is certain: senseless acts of violence like this should never be tolerated.”
“I am grateful to the Capitol Police officers present, the police and first responders from Alexandria, Virginia who arrived on the scene quickly, the Members of Congress and all present who took courageous and immediate action," Mullin continued. "Those injured and those impacted by the shooting today are in mine and Christie’s thoughts and prayers. Today, the entire Capitol Hill community mourns the impact of this horrific tragedy.”
First-year Representative Micheal Bergstrom (R-Adair) said the attack was seemingly aimed at lawmakers and praised the quick action of law enforcement and called for prayers in support of those injured.
"While the motivation behind the shooting has not been clarified yet, it would seem that this attack was intended to kill lawmakers, " said Bergstrom. "It is troubling that there are those in our society who are willing to commit such acts. The quick response of law enforcement on site saved lives, and we need to be thankful for these heroes.
"Our prayers need to be with Representative Steve Scalise and the others, including police officers, who were shot, and their families as they recover from their injuries."
Taking to social media, Oklahoma Senators Jim Inhofe and James Lankford along with Congressmen Tom Cole and Frank Lucas all extended their sympathies while also issuing calls for prayer on behalf of those wounded.
"Our thoughts & prayers are with my friend @SteveScalise & others injured this morning," tweeted Lucas. "Thankful for the incredible service of @CapitolPolice.
"My prayers are with @SteveScalise, the staff, Capitol Police, and all those affected by this morning's incident," Cole shared via Twitter.
"My thoughts and prayers are with Rep. Scalise, Capitol police and all those affected by this tragedy," wrote Inhofe along with Lankford whose tweet mirrored the same message as his fellow Oklahoma lawmakers tweeting "Please join me in praying for @SteveScalise, congressional staffers & Capitol Hill police that were shot in Alexandria. This is so terrible."
The House was back in session Thursday while the investigation is ongoing into the shooting and the deceased suspect Hodgkinson.
Dorothy Ballard is the managing news editor for the Miami News-Record. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @dm_ballard.