Majority Whip Steve Scalise Shot

Majority whip Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) and a staffer were shot Wednesday while practicing with a GOP baseball team in Alexandria, Va.

UPDATE (2:44 p.m.): The hospital treating Scalise tweeted that he was now in critical condition.

Rep. Scalise was critically injured and remains in critical condition. The other patient is in good condition.

— MedStar Washington (@MedStarWHC) June 14, 2017

UPDATE: (12:00 p.m.): House proceedings--votes have been suspended--began with an opening prayer citing the shooting and seeking
support for the victims' recovery.  

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said in opening remarks that they were horrified by the attack and praying for those who were attacked and their families. "We are united," he said, in shock and anguish. "An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us," he said, to an extended standing ovation from the floor. He thanked the first responders and police, and "awed" by the tremendous bravery of the Capitol Police (more long applause).

Ryan said he had spoken with both injured Capitol Hill officers and that he was convinced that without "those two heroes," many lives would have been lost.

He said he had complete confidence in the ongoing investigation.

Ryan said Scalese was probably frustrated that he would not be able to play in the congressional baseball game, scheduled for Thursday, June 14.

Ryan said one image he wanted to preserve was Democratic colleagues praying together for the victims. He said the Congress was one family and their brothers and sisters had been in the line of fire.

He asked his colleagues to reflect and to resolve to come together and lift each other up and show the country that they are one House, "the people's House."

Minority leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) associated herself with Ryan's remarks, something she said he probably had not heard before. She called the attack "an injury in our family." She also called it a "cowardly" act.

UPDATE (11:40 a.m.): President Trump offered remarks from the White House on the incident. The President said the assailant has now died from his injuries. He said Scalise was shot and badly wounded. "Many lives would have been lost if not for the heroic actions of the Capitol Hill police officers," he said. He called it a "very, very brutal" assault. He also called Scalise a good friend, a patriot and a fighter.

Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), who was at the practice, told CNN that in addition to Scalise, a staffer was hit, as well as members of a security detail. CNN reported that police said the shooter was injured and in custody.

CNN said that Dana Bash was reporting it as a deliberate attack. "It sure wasn't an accident," said Brooks, who was being interviewed when CNN added that update from reporter Dana Bash.

Scalise and others were practicing for the congressional baseball game, scheduled for later this week. Brooks said it was pretty well known that Republicans would be practicing on the field, including being on legislators' calendars.

MSNBC was reporting that Scalise was in stable condition at presstime.

Scalise's office released the following statement:

"This morning, at a practice for the Congressional Baseball game, Whip Scalise was shot in the hip. He was transported to MedStar Washington Hospital Center, where he is currently undergoing surgery. He is in stable condition.

"Prior to entering surgery, the Whip was in good spirits and spoke to his wife by phone. He is grateful for the brave actions of the U.S. Capitol Police, first responders and colleagues.

"We ask that you keep the Whip and others harmed in this incident in your thoughts and prayers."

Brooks said he was sure that the shooter, who opened fire from behind a dugout on the practice field, had a rifle, while Capitol police had pistols, so he was afraid they were outgunned.

ABC, CBS and NBC went live from Washington around 8 a.m., with Fox’s broadcast network sticking with its regular programming. ABC’s Brad Garrett suggested the shooter wasn’t so much looking to kill people but to “draw attention to himself in particular.”

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who was at the ballfield when the shootout broke out, called in to CBS. He said the shooter asked if the ballplayers were Republicans or Democrats. “I think it was politically motivated,” he said.

Paul said he saw the shooter “vaguely.”

On NBC, Tom Costello reported that the shooter was a “middle aged, white male” with a stocky build. Correspondent Kasie Hunt said “there’s a lot of appreciation today for the Capitol police.”

The three networks covered a press conference at 10:30 whose speakers included the Alexandria police chief and Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe.

At 10:45, NBC broke from the press conference, with Pete Williams reporting the shooter's ID: James Hodgkinson.

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said about 25 legislators were at the practice for the charity baseball game.

CBS reported that the shooter had an M4 assault rifle.

Alexandria police chief Michael Brown said in a brief statement that it was working with the FBI to collect evidence from what he said was an "active" scene. He did say that five people were transferred "medically" from the scene. He also said there would be a news conference later in the morning.

"The Vice President and I are aware of the shooting incident in Virginia and are monitoring developments closely," said President Donald Trump. "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."

The President later tweeted that he thought Scalise, who was reportedly shot in the hip or leg, would be OK.

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

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 14, 2017

Scalise is well known in communications circles as a deregulatory-minded member of the House Communications Subcommittee.

"I am horrified by this morning’s evil, cowardly attack and am keeping all those impacted in my prayers," said Energy & Commerce Committee chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.). "The heroism of the U.S. Capitol Police and first responders undoubtedly saved lives. We are forever grateful for their bravery.

“Whip Steve Scalise is a friend, a good man, a valued member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and a true fighter. We pray for his quick and complete recovery, along with the others who are injured.”

Walden said the committee had postponed planned subcommittee hearings.

"This morning’s shooting targeted public servants, law enforcement and other innocents," said Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.). "I am grateful for the brave response from Capitol Police and first responders and am praying for the recovery of my friend Steve Scalise and the victims of today’s attack. We cannot deny the darkness that underlies such acts of violence, and we must answer it with hope for healing."

The managers of the congvressional baseball teams, Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) and Rep Mike Doyle (D-Pa.), both veteran members of the Energy & Commerce Committee well known in communications circles, said the game will go on, and that C-SPAN would televise it.

(Photo via Gage Skidmores Flickr. Image taken on June 13, 2017 and used per Creative Commons 2.0 license. The photo was cropped to fit 9x16 aspect ratio.)

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.