Congressman Mike Bishop recounted this morning the harrowing events that unfolded while GOP members of Congress were practicing for a charity softball game early Wednesday morning.
During a radio interview with WWJ radio, Bishop revealed that one of the coaches had their 11-year-old son at the practice, making the situation even more precarious. He described how most of them were sitting near the backstop area, so when the gunman, 66-year-old James Hodgkinson, began shooting they were essentially trapped. Hodgkinson has died, the President confirmed.
Hodgkinson’s Facebook page revealed he was a Bernie Sanders supporter, and even a volunteer. Sanders addressed this matter this morning:
Since Congressman Scalise, who was shot in the hip, is Congressional leadership, there were Capitol Police on the premises. It was their heroic actions that provided everyone else the brief cover they needed to run and find a more favorable position.
An incredible account, via MRCtv:
Rep. Mike Bishop: “Well, good morning. I am sorry that the noise around me and the chaos that I am sure you hear behind me, but who play in a charity baseball game, and every morning we come and practice at a field out here in Virginia.
“As we were standing here this morning, a gunman walked up to the fence line and just began to shoot. I was standing at home plate and he was in the third base line. He had a rifle that was clearly meant for the job of taking people out, multiple casualties, and he had several rounds of magazines that he kept unloading and reloading it. Firing it.
“The only reason—the only reason—why any of us walked out of this thing: By the grace of God, one of the folks here had a weapon to fire back and give us a moment to find cover. Because we were inside the backstop and if we didn’t have that cover by a brave person who stood up and took a shot themselves, we would not have gotten out of there and every one of us would have been hit. Every single one of us.
Question by WWJ reporter: Oh, my gosh. That must have been so frightening for you. What are you feeling now?
Bishop: “Well, I’m just shocked. I’m okay. I’m fortunate. I’ve scrapes—and, you know, it’s going to take awhile to recover from this. But my biggest concern is: Some of my close friends and our staff–two of our staff were hit. Steve Scalise, who is our chief whip, was hit on second base. I watched him get hit and I couldn’t do anything to help him. We tried to get him off as fast as we could but this guy was relentless with his fire. And one of our staffers got hit in the chest and I pray for him. I just don’t know what the outcome is going to be. But this is a tragic situation and frankly, it’s changed everything as I know it forever.
Question: Is the gunman dead?
Bishop: “He was behind this utility building, and I, they neutralized him, hit him once. Took him down. He was coming around the corner, Roberta, he was coming around the fence line. And he was looking for all of us, who had found cover in different spots. But if we didn’t have return fire right there, he would have come up to each one of us and shot us point blank. That is what would have happened.
Question: Who was the one who returned fire and you said he was hit as well?
Bishop: Yes. At least one of–Since our chief deputy was here, he has armed security with him, and fortunately, they reacted immediately. Came out onto the field in harm’s way to try to fire back. But they are firing back with their handguns against a rifle that was meant from a distance, where he was. And all they can do is return fire and at least make sure he at least stops for a second that gives us a chance to run.
Question: Oh, my gosh. Did he say anything before he started shooting?
Bishop: Not a thing. He stood there silently. None of us saw him walk up. You know, every once in awhile–you know its early in the morning so usually nobody else is up–but every once in awhile someone is walking a dog, or just kind of walking … One of our coaches had his son, his 11-year-old son. I have an 11-year-old son, too, who is supposed to be here. And I am just, I can’t even tell you. I don’t know. Fortunately, everybody’s okay. But it’s just traumatic.
Question: Congressman Mike Bishop, we are speaking too, And I am sorry for the staff that you mentioned that was hit. And we understand that a congressman was hit, too. Do you know who that was?
Bishop: Yeah, it was Steve Scalise, our chief whip, our third in command. He was standing on second base. I was looking right at him. I couldn’t get to him. I don’t know–We were helpless to try … He was a sitting duck.
Question: How many others were hit? Do you know?
Bishop: The nearest as I can figure there were four. Somebody just told me it may be more, but I don’t know. I saw two staff, and I saw at least one detail, and one member of Congress.