ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WATE) – East Tennessee Representative Chuck Fleischmann said he is still in shock after a rifle-wielding gunman opened fire at a congressional baseball practice just outside of Washington.
Fleischmann talked with reporters just hours after the game, still wearing his Tennessee hat and jersey from practice. He said he was walking down the third base line talking to U.S. Representative Trent Kelly from Mississippi when he heard a popping noise.
“I didn’t know it was a gun at first, so we were standing around. Within moments there was a barrage of shots being fired,” said Fleischmann. “We hit the ground immediately and then we realized that we were literally out there. We didn’t exactly know where the shots were coming from, but it was loud, it was constant.”
The congressman said he ran in the dugout and realized there were children in the dug-out watching the game and the shooting was still active. Fleischmann said the children were secured against a wall in the dug-out.
“Fortunately, the Capitol Police were able to return fire and stop the shooter from moving forward, because we were like sitting ducks in the dug-out,” said Fleischmann. “It seemed like it went on for quite some time, because when I got into the dug-out with the members there I realized one gentleman had been shot in the leg and was bleeding and I could actually see the bullet hole in his leg. Other members were bloodied up just trying to get there.”
Fleischmann said calls went out for back-up and officers arrived from Virginia Police Department to help subdue the shooter.
“Thank God for the Capitol Police. They were there to guard our whip Steve Scalise, but for that fact there would have been much, much more damage,” said Fleischmann. “The congressional baseball game has gone on for over 100 years. This is where Republicans and Democrats come together, raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for charity. We practice for a couple months leading up to the game. This should be a happy and safe time and a very happy and safe time for Americans, on a ballfield.”
House Republican, Steve Scalise of Louisiana, was shot and wounded. Several other people were also wounded, and at least two were in critical condition.
Capitol Police officers who were in Scalise’s security detail returned fire and wounded the shooter, who was taken into custody. In all, five people were taken to area hospitals, including the suspect, Alexandria police said.
“This is a horrible aberration and it makes us fear for our security,” said Fleischmann. “My thoughts and prayers and sincere thanks go out to them. A lot more members would have been more seriously hurt if they had not been there to return fire.”
The shooting has many asking questions about changes to security for representatives outside of the Capitol. Those like Scalise have security, but other congressman and and representatives do not. Fleischmann said he has always felt safe in his district.
“I represent wonderful people in East Tennessee,” said Fleischmann. “I’ve always wanted to be out with the people. That’s where I feel the best seeing the common men and women in this country who are great and make this country great each and every day. I’m not going to change that. If someone wants to take an act of violence against me, I hope and pray they never do, but we cannot let the bad guys win this thing. We have to come together as Americans and get this right.”
Senator Bob Corker
“My prayers are with all those affected by this morning’s shooting. I am extremely grateful for our brave Capitol Police officers.”
Congressman John J. Duncan, Jr.
“I am very saddened by today’s shooting that occurred during practice for the Congressional Baseball Game for charity. This is a tragedy which I hope does not happen again.
“At this point, I do not know the extent of the injuries to all those who were shot. I certainly hope that they have a speedy recovery, and all the victims have my sympathy, and best wishes.”
Congressman Steve Cohen
“My thoughts go out to House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, the Capitol Police officers, the staff and all those affected by this morning’s horrific shooting at the Congressional baseball practice in Virginia. I hope the victims all make a quick and full recovery. I’ve feared violence directed at a Member of Congress ever since Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot at an event in 2011. There’s been too much violence, too much hate, and too much anger.”
Rep. Phil Roe
“This morning’s shooting was a senseless and shocking act, and my thoughts and prayers are with everyone who was at practice this morning, especially my friend Steve Scalise, all who were injured and their families. I am incredibly thankful for the brave actions of the Capitol Police officers and first responders at the scene.”