Attack shakes lawmakers, country

Rand Paul: ‘Everybody probably would have died except for the fact that the Capitol Hill Police were there’

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Attack shakes lawmakers, countryMany congressional offices — both capitol and district — remain on lockdown in the wake of a bizarre shooting on Capitol Hill that left five wounded and the suspect dead.

Early Wednesday morning, GOP members of Congress were practicing for a charity baseball game between Republicans and Democrats just outside of Washington, D.C. According to witness accounts, a gunman — later identified as 66-year-old James Hodgkinson of Illinois — arrived shortly before 7 a.m. and allegedly asked a departing member whether the people on the scene were Republicans or Democrats. They responded that the players were Republican, and the gunman apparently opened fire.

What followed was a prolonged attack between Hodgkinson and the members of the Capitol Police, some of whom returned fire despite having sustained injuries.

Among the wounded was House Majority Whip Steve Scalise. At press time the member of GOP leadership was in surgery, but expected to make a full recovery.

“Everybody probably would have died except for the fact that the Capitol Hill police were there,” reported Sen. Rand Paul, who gave his first-hand-account to various media outlets.

Details about the shooter, circulating through the media, indicate that Hodkinson has made comments online that accuse President Donald Trump of betraying the country and destroying democracy, and stating, “it’s time to destroy Trump & Co.”

Members of staff for House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy confirm that the Bakersfield Republican was not present during the incident.

“Judy and I are praying deeply for our friend Steve, the members of the Capitol Police who so bravely confronted the attacker even after being wounded, and the staff helping with the practice who were also wounded,” said McCarthy.

“This is a tragic moment for their families, loved ones and the entire community on Capitol Hill.”

Analysts have noted that the incident underscores the critical role this security detail provides in our present landscape.

“As we pray for full recoveries, we know we have witnessed again the incredible bravery of the Capitol Police as they put their lives on the line to keep us safe,” said McCarthy.

He added that Special Agent Crystal Griner and Special Agent David Bailey, who continued to hold the attacker at bay after being wounded, “are amazing individuals.”

State Sen. Jean Fuller called on citizens to rise above the partisanship that is strangling progress among the American people.

“I will continue to pray for the full and quick recovery of the victims of today’s events in Virginia,” she said Wednesday. “From California to Virginia, unfettered political rhetoric is out of control and needs to stop. Not only because it is in the best interests of the constituents we represent, but because it can lead to the violence we saw today.

“Make no mistake — there is no excuse for the violence we saw today and the blame for this terrible event is 100 percent on the perpetrator.

“However, it is my hope that, as elected representatives, we can set a more civil tone as we debate our public policy differences and continue to focus our work on moving our country and state forward collaboratively.”

“My thoughts and prayers go out to Rep. Steve Scalise, the Capitol Police, and to everyone affected this morning,” said Assemblyman Vince Fong.

According to staffers in McCarthy’s office, it is not yet known whether Scalise’s injuries will impact his ability to perform his responsibilities as a party leader. Details about his recovery and other developments will be reported as they become available.

Story First Published: 2017-06-16