U.S Congressman Steve Scalise was rushed to the hospital Wednesday morning after a gunman attacked a group of Republicans at an Alexandria, Virginia park.
The Republicans were practicing for a charity baseball game when the shooting happened.
Witnesses described the scene at Eugene Simpson Park Wednesday morning as chaos.
A 66-year-old Illinois man named James Hodgkinson opened fire on a congressional baseball team practice using a chinese-made SKS assault-style rifle and a handgun.
5 people were hit, including House Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana. Thankfully, as a member of the leadership Scalise has full time security. His security officers returned fire killing Hodgkinson.
“Had Mr. Scalise not been at baseball practice we would have had a far worse result,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach.
Gaetz spent Tuesday night working with Scalise on a plan to extend red snapper season. But this morning he learned that his friend had been shot. Gaetz described Scalise as a man who cares about his constituents and works hard to help his colleagues.
“It tell’s you a lot about Steve Scalise how hard working and dedicated he is that he would be working late into the pm hours of the evening and then back up for 6 am baseball practice,” Gaetz said.
Rep. Neal Dunn, R-Panama City agreed.
“Today is a sad day for our country. Leah’s and my thoughts and prayers are with Congressman Steve Scalise, the Capitol Police and staff involved in this morning’s tragic shooting,” Dunn said. “We are grateful to the Capitol Police for putting themselves in harm’s way to protect the congressional community.”
It wasn’t just a tough day in Washington but here at home spouses, relatives and parents, like former state senator Don Gaetz, were struggling to discover what happened and if their loved ones had been hurt.
“We faced that today, potentially, with our son, but military families and first responder families face it every day. Makes you proud of them and grateful for them,” said Matt Gaetz father, former State Senator Don Gaetz,'”
The survivors and family members are also just now processing that the suspected shooter may have been motivated by politics
“This is somebody who apparently had some very pretty strong and radical and rabid political opinions, but my take away is that maybe it’s time to calm it down a little bit, maybe it’s time for people to be a little more thoughtful,” Don Gaetz said.
Despite this crime, work continues in Washington.
“I’ll be having my next town hall meeting Saturday morning in Fort Walton Beach, Florida and we’re going to make sure that it’s safe and secure and that people feel welcome regardless of their view points or their opinions that they’d like to share,” Matt Gaetz said.