Congressman Jeff Fortenberry

Representing the 1st District of Nebraska

Omaha World Herald: Shooting at GOP Baseball Practice Injures Louisiana Congressman, Several Others

Jun 14, 2017
In The News

WASHINGTON -- House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana was shot Wednesday at a congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia, officials said.

A congressional aide said Scalise was in stable condition at George Washington University Hospital.

Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., said several other people also were hit, including two law enforcement officers.

Brooks said that Scalise, 51, was down on the ground with what Brooks described as “a hip wound.”

Later, Alexandria police tweeted that the gunman was arrested and no longer a threat.

Rep. Mike Bishop, R-Mich., said Scalise was standing on second base when he was shot.

“I was looking right at him,” Bishop told Detroit radio station WWJ. “He was a sitting duck.”

Scalise is the No. 3 House Republican leader. He was first elected to the House in 2008 after serving in the state legislature.

Rep. Jeff Duncan said in a statement that he was at the practice and “saw the shooter.”

“Please pray for my colleagues,” Duncan said.

No members of the Nebraska or Iowa congressional delegations are on the roster for the Thursday night game between congressional Republicans and Democrats. The entire Nebraska delegation was at the weekly Nebraska breakfast when reports of the shooting began to come in.

Brooks, the Alabama congressman, later appeared on CNN and described hearing a loud "bam," seeing a rifle and then another "bam," and then hearing Scalise scream. The shooter continued to fire, he said.

“He continues to fire at different people. You can imagine all the people on the field scatter. I run around to the first base side on the batting cage … and hide behind the plastic. … Gunfire continues. Heard a break in the gunfire and decided to take a chance.”

He said he applied a tourniquet to someone, though he did identify that person.

Brooks said security guards returned fire.

“There must have been 50 to 100 shots fired,” Brooks said.

It seemed the shooter shot the security detail, Brooks said, and then started circling around third base.

“My understanding it that’s where our security detail … still defending us, took him down. Once we got the 'all clear' that the shooter was down, we went out to the outfield for Steve Scalise, he had crawled out in the outfield leaving a trail of blood.”

At least five people were wounded, Brooks said.

As the No. 3 House Republican, Scalise has a round-the-clock Capitol Police detail.

Had he not been at Wednesday’s practice, it’s unlikely there would have been any law enforcement immediately present — which, Sen. Rand Paul told MSNBC, almost certainly would have resulted in a “massacre.”

“Everyone probably would have died” without the presence of Capitol Police, Paul, R-Ky., told MSNBC. Simply by being there with his protective detail, Paul said, Scalise “probably saved everyone else’s life.”

Multiple Capitol Police officers were injured in the shooting, members of Congress said, but they are expected to survive.

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.

Five people were taken from the shooting scene for medical treatment, police said.

Authorities did not say if that number included the shooter, who reportedly also was injured and taken to a hospital.

“We know that five people were transported medically from the scene,” Alexandria Police Chief Michael L. Brown said during a short press briefing.

Capitol Police said they have a "robust police presence" around the Capitol, but the building remains open.

Members of the Nebraska delegation members and aides watched developments scrolling on Twitter with shock during the weekly breakfast.

“Terrible,” Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., said as he heard some of the details coming in.

Rep. Adrian Smith, R-Neb., used to play in the annual bipartisan competition but retired some years ago.

As emcee of Wednesday’s event, Smith started off by noting the shooting and asking everyone to pray for those affected and to understand if members seemed rattled.

“I’m kind of shaken by it,” Smith said.

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., told The World-Herald that Scalise is a close friend and that he was simply at a loss for words, just hoping his friend will be OK.

Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., tweeted “Praying for @SteveScalise and the others injured at baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia this morning.”

Fortenberry later told the Nebraska gathering that Scalise is a “close personal friend.”

“I frankly am still processing this,” Fortenberry said.

He told the audience that in spite of a lot of cynicism, Washington has many people engaged in public service for the right reasons. He said no one in society, including those in political leadership, deserves to be the target of such violence.

“You can disagree, you can write notes, you can be very strong and robust,” Fortenberry said. “You ought to see some of the things that are written about me, written about Adrian, Deb, Don. Awful, it’s awful stuff.”

He said that kind of vitriol must be absorbed in a free and open society.

“But when it spills over into deliberate violence against persons, it’s just wrong,” Fortenberry said. “It tears at the heart of who we are as a country.”

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