Steve Scalise: Republican House whip shot and wounded

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Media captionCongressman shot: ‘He laid out there for 10 minutes alone’

A top US Republican was among five people wounded in a “multiple shooting” during baseball practice in an upmarket Washington DC suburb.

House of Representatives Majority Whip Steve Scalise was hit but expected to survive after the early morning attack at a park in Alexandria, Virginia.

Two police officers suffered non-life threatening bullet wounds as they fired back at the attacker.

Police said the gunman was among five people taken to hospital.

Latest updates

Alexandria police tweeted: “Suspect is in custody and not a threat.”

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Media captionChief Verderosa praises rapid response

The lawmakers were practising for the annual congressional ballgame scheduled to be played on Thursday at Nationals Park, home of Major League Baseball team the Washington Nationals.

Alexandria police said the FBI was taking over the investigation into the shooting, which began shortly after 07:00 (11:00 GMT) on Wednesday morning at Eugene Simpson Stadium Park.

‘Killing field’

President Donald Trump said in a statement: “We are deeply saddened by this tragedy.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the members of Congress, their staffs, Capitol Police, first responders, and all others affected.”

White House press secretary Sean Spicer tweeted that the president was being updated on the attack.

Who is Steve Scalise?

  • House Majority Whip, the number three Republican in Congress, responsible for vote gathering
  • Elected to Congress in 2008 having previously served in the Louisiana state legislature
  • He apologised for speaking to a white supremacist group during a campaign event in 2002
  • Former leader of the ultraconservative Republican Study Group, which clashed frequently with party leadership
  • He married his wife Jennifer in 2005 and they have two young children. They live in Jefferson, Louisiana

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House Majority Whip Steve Scalise

Mr Scalise was shot in the hip was said to be in a stable condition and “good spirits” as he was taken for surgery.

Senator Mike Lee, a Utah Republican, said someone had used a belt as a tourniquet on Mr Scalise.

Texas congressman Roger Williams’ office said he himself was not shot, though one of his staff was wounded in the attack.

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Congressmen took cover in the field dugout

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul told Fox News: “I do believe without the Capitol Hill police it would have been a massacre.

“We had no defence at all. The field was basically a killing field.”

He said they were lucky that Mr Scalise was present because he has a security detail owing to his congressional seniority.

Mo Brooks, an Alabama Republican, told CNN he was on third base during the baseball game when he saw Mr Scalise, who was on second base, shot.

He said Mr Scalise had a bullet hole in his leg, but was saying: “I’m OK, I’m OK.”

Mr Brooks said everyone on the field scattered as 50 to 100 shots were fired.

He said a gunfight had ensued between the shooter and the congressmen’s police security detail, who were armed with pistols.

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At least 25 Republicans were at the practice

Mr Brooks said the gunman was armed with a rifle and was “blasting away” from behind the dugout, using it for protection.

The congressman, who said he took refuge behind a batting cage, described the attacker as a middle-aged white male, “a little on the chubby side”.

Mr Brooks said congressmen Chuck Fleischmann, of Tennessee, Ron DeSantis, of Florida, and Jeff Duncan, of South Carolina, were among 15-25 lawmakers at the game.

Asked by a CNN host if the attack was deliberate, Mr Brooks replied: “Well, it sure as heck wasn’t an accident!

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“He was going after elected officials, congressmen.”

Mr Brooks continued: “The only weapon I had was a baseball bat and that’s not the kind of fight you want to engage in.”

Ohio congressman Brad Wenstrup, who served in Iraq as a combat surgeon from 2005-06, provided medical care at the scene.

He told CNN the shooter eventually resorted to a pistol, having apparently used up all his rifle ammunition.

‘A lot of ammo’

Arizona Senator Jeff Flake told reporters he was at bat during the shooting and the victims were “sitting ducks”.

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Police at the scene

He said the attack had lasted for at least 10 minutes, adding: “He had a lot of ammo.”

Mr Flake added: “There are two of his [Mr Scalise’s security] detail were shot, one African-American gentleman shot in the leg and I believe he’s the one that brought the shooter down.

“He ran around for quite a while with a leg wound, returning fire.”

Alexandria Police Chief Michael Brown said his officers had responded and engaged the shooter within three minutes.

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There is increased presence outside the US Congress

The last member of Congress to be targeted by a gunman was Democrat Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head as she met constituents in Tucson, Arizona, in January 2011. She survived, but six others died in that incident.

Ms Giffords‏ tweeted on Wednesday: “My heart is with my former colleagues, their families & staff, and the US Capitol Police- public servants and heroes today and every day.”

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Police investigate the shooting scene

The top Republican in the House of Representatives, Speaker Paul Ryan, said “the hearts of the whole House” were with the victims.

One eyewitness was outraged that the gunman should have targeted a game known as the nation’s pastime.

Noah Nathan told NBC News: “Baseball is America’s game! You don’t mess with baseball.”

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Lawmaker Ruben Kihuen‏ tweeted this photo of Democratic congressmen praying for the victims

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