Congressional Republicans who showed up Wednesday for baseball practice were “sitting ducks” who are alive “by the grace of God” after an attacker with a rifle began firing, Rep. Mike Bishop, R-Mich., said Wednesday morning.
“Everybody probably would have died, except for the fact that the Capitol Hill police were there,” added Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who was also at the practice. “And the only reason they were there is because we had a member of leadership on our team.”
“Had they not been there, it would have been a massacre,” Paul said.
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., was shot in the hip while two Capitol Police officers and two congressional staffers were also wounded when an attacker opened fire on GOP senators and congressman who were practicing for Thursday’s annual congressional baseball game between Republicans and Democrats. Scalise was reported in stable condition. The condition of others wounded in the attack was unclear Wednesday morning.
Bishop described the gunman as “relentless.”
“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 told WWJ Newsradio 950. “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 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,” Bishop said.
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“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.”
Saving the lawmakers required sacrifice, Bishop noted.
“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,” said Bishop.
“He stood there silently. None of us saw him walk up,” Bishop 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.”
Paul, among those saved by the return fire of Capitol Police, said the only reason any guns were there was that Scalise had a security detail with him.
“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 lives,” Paul continued. “If you don’t have a leadership person there, there would have been no security there.”
That would have been fatal, he added.
“Because there is no escaping a guy with — if he’s got several hundred bullets. And we had no weapons and no place to hide. So if he would have advanced on the rest of us, there would have been no chance. The only chance we had was that the shots were returned by the Capitol Hill police,” Paul said.
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