The shooting at a GOP congressional baseball practice Wednesday could have been motivated by heightened partisanship, according to Rep. Rodney Davis of Illinois. "This could be the first political rhetorical terrorist attack and that has to stop."
Rep. Steve Scalise, was among those shot in Alexandria, Virginia. Scalise was later said to be in stable condition and undergoing surgery, and President Donald Trump announced late Wednesday morning that the shooter -- identified by federal law enforcement sources as James Hodgkinson, 66, of Belleville, Illinois -- was killed in the incident.
"This hatefulness that we see in this country today over policy differences has got to stop," said Davis. "I believe that there's such a hatefulness in what we see in American politics and policy discussions right now. This has got to stop."
He added, "We can disagree on how to govern. That's what makes our country great, but I'm here because we're all Americans."
Davis said he and some fellow lawmakers fled the scene after hearing the gunshots.
"We took off down the street and a Good Samaritan let us into his apartment so we could call 911 and then also call my family," he said.
Davis, who was at bat at the time of the shooting, said he hopes Wednesday marks a turning point in how lawmakers engage in the future.
"Republicans and Democrats need to use this day today to stand together and say stop," he said. "Let's work together and get things done. We can have our differences, but let's not let it lead to such hate."
As you can imagine, there is a huge amount of grief pouring out from politicians from both parties. Some even heading over to Twitter to express their support.
Illinois Republican John Shimkus is a player on the congressional team, but was not at the practice. He tweeted "Please pray with me for my friend Steve Scalise, U-S-C-P and all those there."
U.S. Senator Roy Blunt is "praying for all those hurt in today's horrific shooting at the congressional baseball practice. He's incredibly grateful for our law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe.
Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill is calling for both parties to come together against evil, united by our common decency.
Authorities did not immediately reveal why Hodgkinson opened fire. But Davis attributed the motives of the gunman to heightened partisanship in the current political climate.
U.S. Representative Mike Bost (IL-12) issued the following statement Wednesday afternoon:
“James Hodgkinson contacted my office 10 times, beginning in June 2016 and continuing through May of this year. While he continually expressed his opposition to the Republican agenda in Congress, the correspondence never appeared threatening or raised concerns that anger would turn to physical action. Had we any indication that Mr. Hodgkinson posed a threat to anyone’s safety, we would have taken the appropriate steps to alert U.S. Capitol Police immediately. My prayers continue to be with Steve Scalise, as well as members of the security detail and congressional staff who were injured in this heartless attack.”