News and Commentary

HEROES: Capitol Police Took On Rifle-Armed Shooter With Pistols, Ignored Wounds To Help Congressmen

Early Wednesday morning, five people were injured in the nightmarish attack on the GOP baseball team in Alexandria, Virginia. The scene as described by witnesses was truly harrowing, with the rifle-armed shooter (identified as James T. Hodgkinson), who appears to have been deliberately targeting Republicans, firing off dozens of rounds as congressional members and staffers scrambled for cover. Majority House Whip Rep. Steve Scalise was among the four people the gunman shot, suffering a wound in his hip; but the situation could have been far worse if not for the heroic actions of Capitol Police officers, two of whom were wounded, including one officer, armed with a pistol, who ignored his own wounds to confront and help finally subdue the shooter.

“I can tell you, that I think with absolute certainty, nobody would have survived without the Capitol Hill Police,” Sen. Ran Paul said on CNN. “They saved everybody’s life. Incredibly brave and deserve everyone’s praise, because, with this guy, who knows what his — how heavily armed he was, but nobody else had a weapon. So, he was just killing everyone — he would have … [The Capitol Police] deserve our gratitude for saving — it would have been a massacre without them.”

Michigan Rep. Mike Bishop gave a harrowing, detailed account of the shooting to WWJ Newsradio 950 Wednesday morning in which he described the heroic actions of the security personnel (one of whom was a female), particularly one officer who was hit but nonetheless continued to take action to protect others (emphasis added):

As we were standing here this morning, a gunman walked up to the fence line and just began to shoot. I was standing at home plate and he was in the third base line. He had a rifle that was clearly meant for the job of taking people out, multiple casualties, and he had several rounds and magazines that he kept unloading and reloading.

The only reason why any of us walked out of this thing, by the grace of God, one of the folks here (security detail traveling with Scalise) had a weapon to fire back and give us a moment to find cover. We were inside the backstop and if we didn’t have that cover by a brave person who stood up and took a shot themselves, we would not have gotten out of there and every one of us would have been hit — every single one of us. He was coming around the fence line and he was looking for all of us who had found cover in different spots. But if we didn’t have return fire right there, he would have come up to each one of us and shot us point-blank.

Rep. Mo Brooks gave a similar account, likewise praising the brave actions of the pistol-armed Capitol Police officer who risked his life to take down the shooter (emphasis added):

I was on deck about to hit batting practice on the third base side of home plate and I hear a loud bam, I look around and behind third base in the third base dug out, which is cinder block, I see a rifle. And I see a little bit of a body and then I hear another blam and I realize there is an active shooter. At the same time I hear Steve Scalise over near second base scream. He was shot. He’s our majority whip.

The gun was a semiautomatic. It continues to fire at different people. You can imagine all the people in the field scatter. I run around to the first base side of home plate and we have a batting cage that’s got plastic wrapped around it to stop foul balls, and hide behind the plastic. You know that plastic’s not real good. I was lying on the ground with two or three others as gunfire continues. I heard a break in the gunfire and decided to take a chance. Ran from home plate to the first base dugout, which is also cinder block and down about two or three feet so you have better cover. There were a number of congressmen and congressional staffers who help us lying on the ground.

One of them was wounded in the leg. Took off my belt and myself and another congressman applied a tourniquet to try to slow down the bleeding. In the meantime, I’m towards the right field side of the dugout and there is gunfire within about five or six, seven feet to my head.

I look up and there’s a guy with a gun blasting away, Fortunately, it was one of the good guys — one of our security detail who was shooting back. Of course, it was pistol versus rifle — our pistols versus the shooters rifle — along the third baseline just outside the chain link fence and he was ordering us to stay down.

Both officers who were wounded are reportedly “in good condition.” Rep. Scalise is in stable condition. The condition of the fourth person wounded by the gunman, a staffer for Rep. Roger Williams, is unclear. Statements from Scalise and Williams’ offices below: