Congressman Details Hectic Moment Under Fire: 'We Were Sitting Ducks; Gun Saved Our Lives'
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WWJ) - A Michigan representative who survived a gun attack during a congressional baseball practice Wednesday morning in Virginia is detailing the harrowing moments the gunman opened fire.
Michigan Rep. Mike Bishop tells WWJ Newsradio 950 he was attending the practice around 5:30 a.m., in Alexandria, when shots rang out. He said he and his colleagues were "sitting ducks."
"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," Bishop said. "He had a rifle that was clearly meant for the job of taking people out, multiple casualties, and he had several rounds and magazines that he kept unloading and reloading."
The shooting went on for roughly 10 minutes, with some accounts putting the number of shots fired around 100.
Five people were injured, including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana and two Capitol Hill police officers — one, a female who was airlifted from the scene.
Also among those wounded was Michigan-native Matt Mika, a lobbyist for Tyson Foods, and former GOP staffer. He was listed in critical condition.
The suspect, since identified by police as 66-year-old James T. Hodgkinson of Belleville, Ill, was shot at last once by police and later died of his injuries.
[Who Is James T. Hodgkinson? Here's What We Know]
"The only reason why any of us walked out of this thing, by the grace of God, one of the folks here (security detail traveling with Scalise) had a weapon to fire back and give us a moment to find cover. 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," said Bishop.
"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."
Bishop was uninjured. General Jack Bergman, who represents northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula, and John Moolenaar, from Midland, were also at the practice; neither were injured. Democratic members of Congress were practicing at a different field, miles away.
"Two of our staff was hit, Steve Scalise 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," said Bishop. "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. This is a tragic situation and frankly, it's changed everything as I know it forever."
Bishop said the man didn't speak a word.
"He stood there silently. None of us saw him walk up," he said. "One of our coaches had his son, his 11-year-old son -- I have an 11-year-old son, too, who's supposed to be here -- and I am just, I can't even tell you, I don't know. Fortunately everybody's OK. It's just traumatic."
Alexandria Police Chief Michael Brown told reporters the situation was stable and "at this point, there is no additional threat." He referred to the shooting as a closed incident.
It's not yet clear if the baseball game, which was scheduled for Thursday, will continue as planned. It has been an annual tradition since the early 1900s.
Stay with WWJ Newsradio 950 and CBSDetroit.com for the latest.
for more features.