3 Michigan Reps. at scene of congressional shooting

WASHINGTON - Three Michigan members of Congress were among those taking part in baseball practice for a charity event this morning when a gunman opened fire, wounding at least one other member, U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., and several others.

None of the Michigan congressmen were injured, though there were reports that a lobbyist who formerly worked for Michigan members of Congress and at the Statehouse in Lansing was among the wounded.

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MIRS, the Michigan Information and Research Service, said that Matt Mika, a government relations employee for Tysons Food in Washington and a former employee of U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton, and former U.S. Rep. Dave Camp, R-Midland, was injured, though Walberg's office couldn't immediate confirm that.

In a series of posts on Twitter and an interview with radio station WWJ Newsradio 950, U.S. Rep. Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, described the scene in which Alexandria, Va., police said a gunman opened fire at Eugene Simpson Stadium Park, where members were practicing for an annual baseball game between members of Congress representing both major political parties set to take place Thursday.

“I was present at practice, as well as a member of my staff. Both of us are OK,” Bishop posted after the incident, which occurred around 7 a.m. Bishop also posted that “several” people were “down” after the shooting and later asked his followers to pray for Scalise and four others sent to area hospitals.

News reports indicated at least one person had been taken into custody. Members of Congress who were part of the team — including Bishop and U.S. Reps. Jack Bergman, R-Watersmeet, and John Moolenaar, R-Midland — were part of a security lockdown at the field, their offices said.

Moolenaar’s communications director, David Russell, put out a statement saying Moolenaar was at baseball practice but was uninjured in the shooting. “He asks that you keep those injured in this act of cowardice in your thoughts and prayers,” Russell said.

Bergman posted on Twitter that he was "on scene, but I'm blessed to be safe." He spoke to WDIV-TV Channel 4 and said he was about to go to the batter's box when he heard the first shot.

A retired lieutenant general in the Marine Corps, Bergman said when the "second shot rang out and we knew at that point it was gunfire, not fireworks. You could tell where it was coming from ... it was somewhere behind the third base dugout."

"You could not see from my position who it was, how many, whatever. So I just basically went into a low crawl and crawled behind the first base dugout and listened," Bergman told WDIV.

Alexandria Police Chief Michael Brown said U.S. Capitol Police were on the scene and his officers responded to the call of a shooter at 7:09 a.m. as well. Officers from both forces reportedly traded fire with the gunman, he said.

Speaking to CNN, U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., said Scalise was fielding hits during batting practice when the gunman came near the third base dugout. “I just remember seeing some gravel bounce up as shots were coming near us. We climbed into the dugout and tried to get our own people engaged. Some people were calling 911. It was at least 10 minutes,” he said.

Flake went on: “We could see Steve Scalise out in the field from second base out to further in the field. I wanted to get to him but there were still shots. When we heard the shooter was down I ran low to Steve.” He said they applied pressure to Scalise’s wound “for about 10 or 15 minutes” until the medics arrived.

In describing the scene to WWJ, Bishop said the gunman “walked up to the fence line and just began to shoot. I was standing at home plate and he (the gunman) was in the third base line. 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.”

Bishop said the gunman was coming around the fence, “looking for all of us.”

“The only reason why any of us walked out of this thing, by the grace of God, (was) one of the folks here 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.

“(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 continued.

U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint Township, who plays on the Democratic team, was practicing on another field and sent out a post on Twitter saying, “At baseball practice on another field when we learned of this terrible news. Praying for @SteveScalise, staff & Capitol Police who are shot.”

The U.S. House cancelled votes today as a result of the incident and President Donald Trump cancelled his public schedule, including a speech at the Labor Department on job skills and apprenticeship.

Scalise, the majority whip in the House, was in stable condition after being shot in the hip and was undergoing surgery at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, according to his office. None of the other injuries were detailed.

Trump noted the shooting on his own Twitter account, calling Scalise “a true friend and patriot” and saying he “was badly injured but will fully recover. Our thoughts and prayers are with him.”

The annual congressional baseball game dates back to 1909 and is scheduled to be played Thursday at Nationals Park in Washington. Proceeds from the event go to help District of Columbia-area charities including the Washington Literacy Center, The Boys and Girls Club of Greater Washington, and the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation.

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© 2017 Detroit Free Press


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