Several GOP lawmakers described in vivid detail Wednesday how a routine baseball practice turned into a shootout that wounded a top Republican lawmaker and a congressional aide.
Rep. Steve Scalise — as well as a congressional staffer and members of the congressional police force — was shot in Alexandria, Virginia, in what sources are calling an apparent “deliberate attack.”
Lawmakers who were at the practice described a harrowing scene in interviews.
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul to CNN
“I was in the right-field batting cage outside of the fence line and the first shot rang out. And I grew up in the South, so I’m used to hearing an occasional shotgun. It didn’t sound like a shotgun but it did sound like a rifle. Then there were a couple of seconds — everybody kind of looked up and heard the sound but we were about ready to go back around our business. Nobody dropped to the ground. Nobody ducked, nobody did anything as far as I could see.
“But then, five to 10 shots in a row very quickly rang out, and that’s when everybody was hitting the dirt. I saw Scalise go down at second base. There were staffers running from the perimeter of the outfield from third base going all the way to where I was. I was in the far perimeter of right field. At some point, 50 or 60 shots, at least, had been fired from the shooter and then we start to hear the Capitol Hill Police respond and there is a different weapon, so you hear pistol shots going back at the shooter.
“I can tell you that I think with absolute certainty that nobody would have survived without the Capitol Hill Police. They saved everybody’s life. Incredibly brave and deserve everyone’s praise, because with this guy, who knows how heavily armed he was, but nobody else had a weapon, so he was just killing everyone and would have … It would have been a massacre without them.”
Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake to CNN
“Steve was playing second base … Steve’s OK, we believe. But Steve dragged himself about 15 yards off near second base onto the field. He was laying motionless out there, but we couldn’t get to him until the shooting had stopped. After a time, another staffer ran in with a leg wound. He was shot in the leg. I think it was … one of Roger Williams staffers. (He) was then shot in the field and continued to run and limped into the dug out and we got a belt … Joe Barton’s boy, a 10-year-old, was here. And we got him in the dugout, we put him under a bench … I got a look at the shooter. It was a man with a blue shirt … What do you make of it? I have no idea. But I got Steve Scalise’s phone and I called his wife. I didn’t want her to wake up and hear the news and not know what was going on.”
Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks to CNN
“The Capitol security guy, who had already been shot, who helped take down the shooter, came limping toward us in the outfield, totally ignoring his own wounds, to check on the person he was primarily responsible for (Steve Scalise).
“We insisted that he go back and get attended to because he was bleeding, but he was doing his job. And I tell you, those two security details, those two Capitol police officers, they showed incredible bravery — pistols against a rifle — from a 90- to 120-feet distance. As you know, that kind of distance heavily favors the rifle. One of our security detail, from what I understand, was shot in the chest.
“It seemed like forever that we had no help … We had people in first base dugout who were screaming into their telephones that we were under attack and to send help immediately. And I think that was because of the concerns that our security detail might out-gunned. Again, it was pistols verse rifles, and it seemed to take forever for local law enforcement officials to figure out that we were under attack and to get reinforcement.”
Tennessee Rep. Chuck Fleischmann to CNN
“I’m shook up. Thank God. I’m a little bit bloodied from jumping in the dugout when we were under fire, but there were several other people shot and hurt a lot worse. Just a horrible, horrible morning for us all and a sad day for America.”
“The fear factor was horrific because by the time I got into the dugout, I saw several other members bleeding. I saw one gentleman who had been shot in the leg. There was blood all over and it was horrible, but we did not know when it was going to end. It’s my understanding that the Capitol Police only had pistols at that time, so the calls for help went out to get assistance and I understand local police finally did arrive, but it seemed forever, because I actually stayed pinned to the wall on the inside of the dugout because I figured that was the safest place. We were all kind of huddled in there, but as anybody would get up, we would tell them please, please get down because we didn’t know exactly where all of the shots were firing from and whether or not there was more than one shooter. It turned out to be one shooter, but I had to walk right past him when I walked past third base from left field. He just decided not to shoot me, so I was very fortunate.”
Texas Rep. Joe Barton, team manager, to MSNBC
“He shot at Trent Kelly, our third baseman. He shot at Steve Scalise our second baseman … Scalise’s security detail immediately went in to return fire. I just want to thank our security detail because they saved our lives … He was a middle-aged man in blue jeans and a blue shirt. I think he was Anglo. He had a rifle, and I think he had an automatic pistol … Luckily, no one appeared to be killed. Again, I just want to thank the security detail … It lasted 5-10 minutes. There were dozens, if not hundreds, of shots fired. It was scary. I was behind the dugout. My son Jack got under a SUV. My other son Brad was in the batting cage.”
Ohio Rep. Bill Johnson to Fox News
“He was, you know, an average white male. Probably five-foot-ten; looked like he was preparing to start his work day. It seems to me he was wearing some kind of white — it may have been like a white coverall that painters wear … It emboldens me. It tells me that we’re doing what we’re doing for a reason. We don’t cower in the corner from these kinds of incidents. We can’t let the bad guys win.”
Illinois Rep. Rodney Davis to Fox News
“I was up to bat, swinging the bat when the first gunshot rang out … There was a very loud noise … We stopped. I probably said a choice word. Then I heard, ‘Run!’ … I never saw the gunman … but I went into the first base dugout … When the gunshots didn’t seem as frequent, I ran out of the dugout behind other cover … to an apartment across the street when a good Samaritan took us in … I called my wife and my children immediately when I got hold of a phone because my phone is still hanging in a bag in the crime scene. I told them, ‘I love you and Dad’s OK’ … My thoughts and prayers are with Steve Scalise. I tell you, this would have been a lot worse if not for Steve Scalise’s detail. They fired back and made sure there were few casualties, if no casualties … There were children that were on the field with us in the dugout … I never thought I would go to practice for charity and have to dodge bullets … We are now going to be bound together by this senseless shooting for the rest of our lives.”