Rep. Steve Scalise and three others were shot early this morning in Virginia in what is being reported as a “deliberate attack.” The gunman opened fire during practice for an annual congressional baseball game. CNN reports that Scalise, who is the majority whip of the House of Representatives, was shot in the hip and was stable before going into surgery.
“Prior to entering surgery, the whip was in good spirits and spoke to his wife by phone,” the statement said. “He is grateful for the brave actions of U.S. Capitol Police, first responders and colleagues.”
The other victims were a congressional staffer and members of the congressional police force. They are all in stable condition.
As the third highest ranking member of House Republican leadership, many speculate that the attack may have had some partisan motives. The shooter has since been identified as a James Hodgkinson of Belleville, Ill. He’s currently in custody and has been taken to a hospital for serious injuries.
Witnesses told reporters that the gunman had a semiautomatic rifle and the shooting felt as if it lasted as long as 10 minutes. After Scalise was shot, he dragged himself away from second base and laid there until the gunman was neutralized. Other people in the area hopped fences and dove into dugouts.
“The gun was a semiautomatic,” said Rep. Mo Brooks. “It continued to fire at different people. You can imagine, all the people on the field scatter.”
This is the first time a member of Congress has been shot since former Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords was shot in the head in January 2011. Politicians in Washington D.C. have increased security and cancelled events until further notice.