WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump on Wednesday called for unity in the wake of the shooting at a Republican congressional baseball practice that injured five people, including a top House Republican.
“We may have our differences, but we do well in times like these to remember that everyone who serves in our nation’s capital is here because above all they love our country,” Trump said from the White House. “We can all agree that we are blessed to be Americans. That our children deserve to grow up in a nation of safety and peace. That we are strongest when we are unified and when we work together for the common good.”
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, a congressional staffer, lobbyist and two law enforcement officials suffered gunshot wounds after a shooter opened fire on Republican members of Congress who were playing baseball at a field in Alexandria, Virginia.
Trump announced that the alleged shooter, identified to CNN from federal law enforcement sources as James T. Hodgkinson, died of his injuries. Law enforcement officials are still investigating the motive behind the shooting. Two members of Congress said Hodgkins asked them whether the players on the field were Democrats or Republicans.
The shooting marks the first time a sitting member of Congress has been shot since Rep. Gabby Giffords was targeted by a gunman in 2011.
Trump praised Scalise as “a patriot” and “a fighter” and said Scalise has the prayers of the “entire nation” behind him.
“He will recover from this assault and, Steve, I want you to know that you have the prayers not only of the entire city behind you but of an entire nation and frankly the entire world,” Trump said. “America is praying for you and America is praying for all of the victims of this shooting.”
Trump praised the Capitol Police officers who fired back at the shooter for their “heroism” and called on Americans to “take a moment today to cherish those you love and always remember those who serve and keep us safe.”
Trump canceled a scheduled event at the Labor Department soon after the shooting took place, and the White House has said both Trump and Vice President Mike Pence received updates on the shooting.
In the wake of the shooting, Trump spoke over the phone with House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Scalise’s wife and his chief of staff, as well as the Capitol Police chief.
By Jeremy Diamond, CNN