Police investigators are seen outside the house of Virginia shooting suspect James Hodgkinson in Belleville, Illinois, US. (Reuters)
Cutting across party lines, members of the bitterly divided US Congress today showed a rare unity as lawmakers and the nation grappled with the shooting at Congressmen at a baseball practicing session in a Washington suburb. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, 51, was shot in the hip during the practice at a field in Alexandria, Virginia, by a gunman identified as James Hodgkinson, 66, who was shot dead by the police. Scalise was in stable condition. “We are united in our shock. We are united in our anguish. An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us,” Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House of Representatives, said on the floor of the House hours after the incident. “We are all horrified by this dreadful attack on our friends and on our colleagues, and those who serve and protect this Capitol,” Ryan said, leading Congressmen in showing a bipartisan solidarity rarely seen among the lawmakers now. Other than Scalise, Zachary Barth, Matt Mika, special agent David Bailey, special agent Krystal Griner were also injured in the shooting when they practiced for the more-than- a-century-old annual Congressional Baseball Game scheduled for June 15.
Ryan urged lawmakers to show that “we are one big family” and praised the police officers who immediately reached the scene and engaged the shooter. “These were our brothers and sisters in the line of fire. These were our brothers and sisters who ran into danger and saved countless lives. So before this House returns to it’s business, let’s just slow down and reflect, to think about how we’re all being tested right now. Because we are being tested right now,” Ryan said. Joining him, Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said: “We are not one caucus or the other in this House today, but we speak for each other in saying that we send our thoughts and prayers to our colleague Steve Scalise.”
She said sports are a wonderful thing in the US, probably one of the most unified. “People have the biggest differences of opinion on politics, and yet when their team is on the field, people come together. People come together,” she said. “For this person to take this action was so cowardly, so cowardly. We all learned more about motivation and the rest of that. But it seems particularly sad, though any violent death of course is sad, but particularly sad that at a time when people want us to come together, and we were prepared to come together tomorrow night that this assault would be made,” Pelosi said.