A shooting that took place at a congressional baseball practice Wednesday morning might have been dramatically worse if House Majority Whip Steve Scalise had not been present, according to some congressmen involved in the incident.
Scalise, who is the third-ranking Republican in the House, had two Capitol Police officers assigned to his security detail. When the gunman opened fire during the practice, these officers immediately returned fire and held him off until police reinforcements could arrive.
Senator Rand Paul, who was at the practice, spoke about the role Scalise’s security detail played in protecting those present during the shooting.
“Without Capitol Hill police, it would have been a massacre – we had no defense – we had no defense at all,” Paul said in an interview soon after the incident. “I think we’re lucky Scalise was there because this was his security detail and without them, it would have been a massacre.”
As Paul expressed on MSNBC, “If Scalise wouldn’t have been on the team, unfortunately he was hit and I hope he does well, but also by him being there he probably saved everybody else’s life.”
Representative Brad Wenstrup held the same opinion about the significance of Scalise’s presence at the event on Wednesday.
“If Scalise was not there, he’s the one with the security detail, we wouldn’t have had any protection, and God knows how bad that might have been.”
Scalise, a Capitol Police officer, a lobbyist, and a congressional staffer all suffered gunshot wounds during the incident. The gunman was also struck and later succumbed to his wound at a local hospital.
Scalise is now in critical condition, having been struck by a rifle round in his left hip. MedStar Washington Hospital Center released a statement saying that he had already undergone one surgery and that he will require additional operations.
President Trump visited Scalise’s bedside and spoke with his family in the hospital, later tweeting that Scalise was “a real fighter” and urging people to “pray for Steve.” In an earlier announcement from the White House, Trump also praised the “heroic actions” of the Capitol Police officers who stopped the shooter in his tracks.
Representative Roger Williams said in a press conference that “there could have easily been 25 deaths or more today,” if not for the courageous acts of the two Capitol Police officers—Crystal Griner and David Bailey. He praised the two and stated that Americans should be proud and grateful that the U.S. is “the kind of country that still produces these kinds of heroes.” Williams, who could be seen walking on crutches, sustained a minor injury during the shooting when he dove into a dugout to avoid the crossfire.
Nonetheless, Williams has called for the Congressional Baseball Game to go on as scheduled this Thursday and plans to attend.
The game will be played at Nationals Park in the evening, with over 50 members of congress participating. The charity event is expected to raise over half a million dollars in donations. One organization, a fallen officers fund, was just added to the list of beneficiaries, in the wake of the recent shooting.
[Featured Image by T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images]