When a gunman opened fire on a congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, VA, Wednesday morning, officers of the U.S. Capitol Police Department returned fire and killed the shooter before he could kill his targets. Both officers were wounded. They are expected to make full recoveries.
"Had they not been there, it would have been a massacre," Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., told MSNBC. Paul was participating in the practice.
Although the practice was taking place in Alexandria, VA, across the Potomac River from the Capitol, police were on hand to protect Rep. Steve Scalise, the majority whip and No. 3 Republican in the House of Representatives, NPR.org reports.
Scalise was wounded in the attack and remained in critical condition as of Wednesday afternoon, according to MedStar Washington Hospital Center, where he and another victim were being treated. Also wounded were a congressional aide, a lobbyist, and the two Capitol Police officers, Special Agent Crystal Griner and Special Agent David Bailey.
Suspect James T. Hodgkinson III, 66, from Illinois — died after the shootout with officers. He reportedly fired as many as 50 shots from a rifle during the incident.
The incident occurred during the final practice before Thursday night’s scheduled charity game between Republicans and Democrats at Nationals Park. Players and bystanders described a horrific and prolonged attack in which wounded police officers returned fire, and Scalise, felled by a bullet to his hip, crawled across the field to get out of harm’s way, the Washington Post reports.
"Many lives would have been lost if not for the heroic actions of the two Capitol Police officers who took down the gunman despite sustaining gunshot wounds during a very, very brutal assault," said President Trump. "Our brave Capitol Police perform a challenging job with incredible skill, and their sacrifice makes democracy possible."
Alexandria police also responded to the incident. The FBI is in charge of the investigation.