According to witness: Shooter walked up and asked, was it Republicans or Democrats playing baseball this morning. It was Republicans. Moments later, he opened fire.

From NJ Citizen Action, a good decision: “Today’s Vigils outside GOP Congressmen’s offices have been CANCELLED due to this morning’s act of horrific violence in Virginia. Please call your Member of Congress’s office today to offer your love and support to your Member and their congressional staff, who must all be totally freaked out. Tell them you are absolutely horrified by this act of violence.” Thanks, Ann Vardeman & NJCA crew. 

UPDATE: Washington Post reporting that two shooting victims at George Washington University Hospital are in critical condition. Rep. Scalise, right now in surgery, is in in stable condition. Updated: Out of surgery. 
UPDATE2: Shooter is identified: James T. Hodgkinson. With news that he is a progressive, his Facebook is filling up with messages wishing him ill.
UPDATE3: The shooter has died of his injuries.

According to a congressman witness, the shooter walked up and asked whether it was Republicans or Democrats playing baseball at Simpson Field. It was Republicans; the Dems were practicing elsewhere for the annual charity bipartisan baseball game tomorrow. A few minutes later, as many as 50 shots targeted members of Congress. Rep. Steve Scalise, a member of House leadership as majority whip, was shot in the hip or leg, and tried to drag himself away, leaving a trail of blood in the dirt. There were five people shot; Scalise, two Capitol Police were also shot. A fifth person, with unconfirmed reports that it was a congressional aide, was also shot. [update: Aide is a staffer of Rep. Roger Williams of Texas]. The shooter may also have been shot.

It is unclear whether any New Jersey House members were on the scene. According to NBC News, the Capitol Police were present because a member of House leadership, Scalise, was there. If they hadn’t been, this might have been much worse. The shooter intended, apparently, to kill as many Republicans as possible. It has also been reported that a woman witness saw a man approaching the field holding a rifle and ran into the local YMCA to call police. That YMCA was hit with at least one bullet. Texas congressman Joe Barton had his 10-year-old son with him, and people pushed him under a bench [updated, it was under an SUV] to protect him.

Rep. Steve Scalise has an A+ rating from the NRA.

NJ Working Families Alliance has already cancelled their Flag Day actions today, and you should check with NJ Citizen Action about healthcare vigils scheduled for tonight outside Republican congressmen’s NJ offices.

Republicans have been having early morning practice there for a month, with the staff, aides, and Capitol Police there every day to get ready for tomorrow’s game. Senators Rand Paul and Jeff Flake were also there. Rand Paul, now a witness, says he grew up in the South, where gunshots are not unusual, and when he heard the first shot he thought it was not all that unusual in the South, but then he remembered he was in the city. Ohio congressman Brad Wenstrup, a combat surgeon vet, said it was like being back in Iraq.

Simpson Field is in a neighborhood. People were out this morning walking their dogs and getting the exercise before the heat of the day. At least one civilian witness said she “hit the ground” when she heard the shots. The local high school and the Alexandria Little League also use the field; there are no reports of neighborhood people injured. This happened at 7:09am this morning. The shooter, believed to be operating alone, is in custody and in hospital.

Scalise is the first member of Congress to be shot since Rep. Gabby Giffords was shot in the head in January 2011 outside a Tucson grocery store where she was hosting an outreach event in her Tucson, Arizona district. Giffords, the target of that shooting, has lasting neurological damage, six others were killed including a little girl there to meet her congresswoman for the first time, and twelve others were injured.

Featured Photo: Shawn Thew/European Pressphoto Agency at New York Times. Victim on stretcher photo: Essdras M Suarez/EMS Photography/zumapress




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