Reports coming out about the shooting at a Republican congressional baseball game practice Wednesday morning paint a harrowing scene in Alexandria, VA. The GOP lawmakers recounting their experiences of the shooting have described what sounds like something out of a war zone. A single gunman with a rifle approached the field where they were practicing and fired at least 50 shots, hitting Rep. Steve Scalise and at least four other people. The situation is now under control.
According to Rep. Brad Wenstrup, a veteran, it was like being back at war. "I felt like I was back in Iraq as a surgeon," he told CBS News, adding that he rushed to help Scalise. Wenstrup said his colleague was conscious at the time and that the first responders got him out okay.
"He was not able to move under his own power. He was dragging his body from second base. There was not a whole lot we could do," said Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama, describing Scalise's injury. He also noted that it appeared as though he was shot in the hip. "It's not easy when you see people around you being shot and you don't have a weapon yourself. You feel helpless."
Multiple congressmen emphasized the effectiveness of the Capitol police, who rushed to the scene and eventually took out the gunman. Brooks told CNN that "it could very well have been a large-scale massacre" had the police not been there. Sen. Rand Paul gave an in-depth account of the shooting on MSNBC, describing the scene as it happened. “I probably heard 50-60 shots,” he said, going on to talk about the police response:
Then finally we heard the response from the Capitol Hill police. Had they not been there it would have been a massacre, because there's no escaping a guy you know if he's got several hundred bullets and we had no weapons and no place to hide.
According to Paul, Scalise's presence at the practice was the reason why the police were there on call; as the House Majority Whip, Scalise has extra protection. "Him being there probably saved everybody else’s life, because if you don’t have a leadership person there, there would have been no security there,” Paul said.
Scalise unfortunately wasn't the only one hurt; it's so far confirmed that five people were taken to hospitals in the area. At least one police officer was wounded and airlifted out, and the shooter was also wounded. Another of the victims was a staffer of Rep. Roger Williams of Texas, who is now receiving medical care.
It's fair, then, that several congressional plans have been pushed back today, as the congressmen who were at the practice might have some recovering to do — even if most of them, fortunately, were physically unharmed.