Top Republican among wounded as gunman fires on US lawmakers

Top Republican among wounded as gunman fires on US lawmakers

Washington (Reuters): A gunman opened fire on Wednesday on Republican US lawmakers who were practicing near Washington for a charity baseball game, wounding senior Republican leader Steve Scalise and several others before being taken into custody, police and witnesses said.

The gunman died later of his injuries, President Donald Trump announced at the White House.

Lawmakers said the shooter, who was armed with a rifle, had exchanged fire with Capitol Hill police who were at the scene and was shot before being taken into custody.

Scalise, No. 3 in the House of Representatives Republican leadership, was shot in the hip at the baseball field in Alexandria, Virginia. He was tended to by fellow lawmakers including Brad Wenstrup, an Ohio congressman who is a physician, before being transported to a hospital.

Five people were taken from the scene to hospitals, Alexandria's police chief, Michael Brown, told reporters. Two of the wounded were Capitol Hill police, witnesses said.

Trump, a Republican, said Scalise, a Louisiana congressman, was "badly injured" but in stable condition. He said two of the wounded were congressional staffers.

At a news conference, authorities declined to identify the suspect. The Washington Post, quoting unnamed law enforcement officials, identified him as James Hodgkinson, 66, of Belleville, Illinois. The Post reported that he owned a home inspection business.

Police and the FBI said it was too early to determine a motive in the shooting or whether the attack was an attempted political assassination.

Some 25 to 30 Republican members of the House and Senate had gathered for an early morning practice a day before the annual charity congressional baseball game pitting Republicans against Democrats, said Representative Mo Brooks of Alabama. The game is scheduled to be played at Nationals Park, home of the Washington Nationals Major League baseball team.

One congressman at the scene indicated there might have been a political motive in the attack.