After media reports suggesting that the alleged congressional baseball practice shooter worked on his 2016 presidential campaign, Sen. Bernie Sanders issued a statement condemning the Alexandria suspect on Wednesday, decrying the act of violence. "I am sickened by this despicable act," Sanders said in his statement. "Let me be as clear as I can be. Violence of any kind is unacceptable in our society, and I condemn this action in the strongest possible terms."
At around 7 a.m. ET Wednesday, a shooter approached a field where the GOP congressional baseball team was practicing and opened fire. The only member of Congress who sustained injuries was House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana. Scalise was said to be in good condition, and has already undergone surgery. The shooter also harmed a congressional staffer and members of the Capitol Police. Police officials have said that the attack was "deliberate," but not an instance of international terrorism.
Sanders is just one of the many political figures who have condemned Wednesday morning's attack. "Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, a true friend and patriot, was badly injured but will fully recover. Our thoughts and prayers are with him," President Donald Trump tweeted earlier this morning.
The alleged shooter, the Washington Post reports, died after a shootout with authorities. A Facebook page believed to have belonged to him featured a picture of Sanders as the page's banner. There was also a good deal of rhetoric on his social media page against President Donald Trump, the Post reported. According to Robert Becker, the Iowa director of Sanders’s presidential campaign, the assailant was not a paid staffer on the Sanders campaign, but could have been among the 10,000 volunteers who helped out.
With his progressive hope-and-change message, Sanders invigorated segments of the American left during the 2016 Democratic primary. Though ultimately unsuccessful in winning the party's nomination, which went to Hillary Clinton, Sanders has continued to be a prominent figure among progressives.
"Real change can only come about through nonviolent action and anything else runs against our most deeply held American values," the Vermont senator continued in his statement.
According to eyewitness accounts, the assailant had a semiautomatic weapon and fired scores of shots at the members of Congress, who were practicing for Thursday's bipartisan game. The practice took place in an Alexandria park on East Monroe Avenue. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives told the Washington Post that they are examining two firearms, a rifle and a handgun.
"My hopes and prayers are that Representative Scalise, congressional staff and the Capitol Police officers who were wounded make a quick and full recovery. I also want to thank the Capitol Police for their heroic actions to prevent further harm," Sanders' statement read.