US congressman shot at Republican baseball game

14/06/2017 - 18:33 Published in News/General

High-ranking Republican congressman Steve Scalise was among at least five people who were wounded Wednesday at a Republican baseball team practice in northern Virginia.

Police received a call of an active shooter at 7:09 a.m. local time (1109GMT), Alexandria Police Chief Michael Brown told reporters.

Officers arrived at the scene within three minutes and two of them engaged the shooter, Brown said.

Brown confirmed five people had been "transported medically" but did not disclose their identities or the nature of their injuries.

The police chief also refused to confirm whether the shooter was included in those hospitalized.

"This is a stable situation at this point, there is no additional threat. We consider this incident to be a closed incident under investigation," Brown said.

Area resident, Nichole Campbell, 38, said she heard about 50 gunshots she initially believed were fireworks, before police told residents of her apartment complex to stay inside.

"It's sad because we just voted yesterday,” she told Anadolu Agency. Virginia voted Tuesday in that state’s primaries for governor.

"This is a tragedy,” Campbell said. "This is a quiet neighborhood."

For Scott, who did not give his last name because of work-related reasons, the shooting was a surprise. "This neighborhood is about inclusion, this neighborhood is about love, affection and kindness,” he told Anadolu Agency. He does not have plans to tell his two children, ages 6 and 2, about the shooting. “In such a divisive time this is exactly the kind of neighborhood you want to be in.”

He said at the first sounds of gunfire, he hoped it was construction “but it was evident very, very quickly that was a firefight" that lasted for some time and sounded like a war zone.

Scalise was "shot in the hip" and "currently undergoing surgery", his office said in a statement, adding he was 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 U.S. Capitol Police, first responders, and colleagues," the statement said, referring to Scalise’s position in the House of Representatives.

Scalise, at least one aide and two capitol police officers were among the wounded, MSNBC network reported.

Sen. Jeff Flake said a sixth person was shot in the chest.

Congressman Mo Brooks, who was at the scene, told CNN the shooter appeared to be a middle-aged, heavy-set white male who took cover behind a dugout when he opened fire.

Brooks said he heard at least 10 to 20 shots from the shooter, who used a rifle, before security was able to return fire. 

FBI agent in charge Tim Slater told reporters during a news conference it was too early to say whether the incident was an act of terror. "We are exploring all angles,” he said.

Capitol Police Chief Matthew Verderosa said the officers who were shot were "in good condition".

Also present at the nes conference was Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe who used the shooting to draw attention to gun control.

"There are too many guns on the streets. We lose 93 Americans every day to gun violence," McAuliffe said. "It is a discussion we need to have."

President Donald Trump said in a statement he and Vice President Mike Pence were aware of the "shooting incident", and were monitoring developments.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the members of Congress, their staffs, Capitol Police, first responders, and all others affected," he said.