A U.S. congressman shot early Wednesday during practice for a charity baseball game was in critical condition following surgery, with the hospital treating him saying in a statement Wednesday night “he will require additional operations.”
Rep. Steve Scalise, who represents the southern state of Louisiana and serves as the House majority whip, was wounded when an attacker armed with a rifle and a handgun fired on Republican lawmakers who were preparing for Thursday’s annual game against a team of Democrats.
The gunman, 66-year-old James Hodgkinson of Belleville, Illinois, was wounded by Capitol Police and later died.
Besides Scalise, the shooter also wounded Capitol Police officer Crystal Griner, a congressional aide and a lobbyist.
The attack happened at a park in Alexandria, Virginia, just across the Potomac River from Washington where Thursday evening’s Congressional Baseball Game will be held.
Watch: Gunman Who Targeted Trump on Social Media Shoots Republican Congressman
White House spokesman Sean Spicer told a reporter late Wednesday that President Donald Trump would like to attend the game and show his support, but that there was not enough time to put in place necessary Secret Service security protocols.
Trump visited MedStar Washington Hospital Center along with his wife, Melania, Wednesday night to see Scalise and his family, and to meet with Griner and her wife. The president later wrote on Twitter that Scalise is in “very tough shape” but is “a real fighter.”
Just left hospital. Rep. Steve Scalise, one of the truly great people, is in very tough shape - but he is a real fighter. Pray for Steve!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 15, 2017
Trump said earlier in remarks at the White House that the shootings are a reminder for all citizens to overcome the political polarization that has gripped Washington and the rest of the nation.
“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,” he said.
Authorities said Wednesday there was not yet a clear motive for the shooting, as the FBI investigated Hodgkinson’s associations and social media postings.
Congressman Jeff Duncan told police Hodgkinson approached him in the parking lot before the shooting and asked him if the men practicing were Republicans or Democrats.
Some of Hodgkinson’s social media posts bitterly lashed out at Trump. Hodgkinson also was a volunteer with Senator Bernie Sanders’ Democratic presidential campaign.
Sanders said he is “sickened” by the shooting and that “violence of any kind is unacceptable.”
There were about 20 congressmen on the field at the time of the attack. They hit the ground or ducked behind trees and shelters when Hodgkinson opened fire, apparently without warning. As many as 20 shots were fired.
There was extra security at the practice because of Scalise’s position in the Republican Party. He is accompanied by Capitol Police at all times.
Afterward, the lawmakers praised the Capitol Police and Alexandria Police, saying that without their actions the outcome could have been far worse.
Republican Congressman Mo Brooks told CNN the security detail “exhibited great, great courage.”
Republican Brad Wenstrup, who was a combat surgeon in Iraq, treated some of the wounded before they were taken to the hospital.
Senator Jeff Flake told VOA an officer who had been shot “ran around quite a while with a wound” while firing at the gunman.
WATCH: Senator Flake's Eyewitness Account
The managers of the Democratic and Republican charity baseball teams said Thursday’s game will go on as scheduled. Pennsylvania Democrat Mike Doyle said when U.S. leadership is civil, maybe the American people and the media will be, too.
Trump visited Scalise on Wednesday night at the hospital where he is being treated.
Scalise is "a friend and he is a patriot who will recover," Trump said earlier in the day. He said the shootings are a reminder for all citizens to overcome the political polarization that has gripped Washington and the rest of the nation.
"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.
WATCH: President Trump's Statement on the Shooting
Republican Joe Barton of Texas, whose 10 year-old son witnessed the shooting, lamented a political climate in which he said lawmakers “are not looked at as people anymore.” He cited shouting and insults thrown at lawmakers during town hall meetings with citizens.
Both said it should not take an incident like Wednesday’s shooting to bring political adversaries together.
In Photos: Shooting at Baseball FieldView full gallery