Rep: ‘We saw courage in face of death’

June 15, 2017 GMT

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Courageous Capitol Police officers are being praised for saving an untold number of lives on a tiny ballfield here yesterday when they took on a lone shooter armed with a rifle and a handgun.

Through tears at a press conference on Capitol Hill, U.S. Rep. Roger Williams (R-Texas) said he dove into the first-base dugout when the gunfire erupted just after 7 a.m. as the cops jumped into action.

“There will be those who will talk about what’s wrong with America, but in this case, Officers (Crystal) Griner and David (Bailey), we saw what’s right with America. We saw two people risk their lives to save the lives of others,” the Texas congressman said. “We saw courage in the face of death.”

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana was shot in the hip by gunman James T. Hodgkinson, 66, of Belleville, Ill. Scalise was listed in critical condition at presstime last night; the gunman was shot at the scene and later died at the hospital.

U.S. Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) told the Herald he was near first base and the dugout when shots rang out.

“Steve Scalise’s Capitol Hill police security detail saved our lives,” Barton said as he walked to a bus near the park after the shooting. “There were several security officers that risked their lives.”

The gunman, who reportedly asked a bystander if Republicans were practicing on the field, fired away from behind a chain-link fence near the third-base dugout. Capitol Police positioned behind the first-base dugout immediately fired back.

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who was in the batting cage when he said the first of the 50 to 60 shots hit, told MSNBC, “Everybody probably would have died” if the Capitol Police officers weren’t there protecting a member of leadership.

“Had they not been there,” Paul said, “it would have been a massacre.”

Paul said the brave officers returned fire — and one of them was still “protecting the scene” after being shot.

Capitol Police Chief Matthew R. Verderosa praised his officers last night.

“I’m grateful that Special Agent Griner is in good condition in the hospital having been shot in the ankle, and Special Agent Bailey was treated and released having sustained a minor injury during the incident,” Verderosa added.

“The United States Capitol Police is dedicated to its mission to protect the U.S. Capitol, members of Congress, staff and the visiting public, and ... we saw how our officers’ extensive training and quick response saved lives,” he said.

The shooting shattered the quiet Del Ray neighborhood, where a police vehicle with the driver-side window shot out was seen directly next to ballfield hours after the ambush.

Besides Scalise, lobbyist Matt Mika and congressional staffer Zack Barth were also shot, suffering minor injuries, officials said.

President Trump also hailed the officers, saying, “Many lives would have been lost if not for the heroic actions of the two Capitol Police officers who took down the gunman despite sustaining gunshot wounds during a very, very brutal assault.”