UPDATE FROM THE FBI:
Joint Statement on Shooting in Alexandria, Virginia
At approximately 7:09 a.m. on June 14, the Alexandria Police Department responded to the scene at 400 East Monroe Avenue in Alexandria, Virginia. They arrived at 7:12 a.m. to shots fired in the vicinity of Eugene Simpson Stadium Park, where members of a congressional baseball team were practicing. Multiple members of Congress were present on the scene; therefore, United States Capitol Police officers were also on scene.
The subject was engaged by law enforcement and shot at approximately 7:14 a.m.
Five individuals were transported by Alexandria EMS, Arlington County EMS, and U.S. Park Police helicopter to local hospitals with gunshot wounds. Those transported include a United States Capitol Police officer who is hospitalized and is reported to be in stable condition, a congressman, one congressional staffer, one lobbyist, and the subject.
A second congressman sustained minor injuries and was also transported by a medic unit.
One additional United States Capitol Police officer was transported to the hospital in a police cruiser for minor injuries and has been released.
The shooter has been identified by law enforcement as James Hodgkinson, age 66, from Belleville, Illinois. Hodgkinson was taken to the hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries.
The FBI is actively investigating Hodgkinson, to include his associates, whereabouts, social media impressions, and potential motivations. This is an active investigation that continues to unfold.
The ATF is running a trace on two weapons, to include a rifle and a handgun.
The scene remains an active investigation, where law enforcement, to include the FBI Evidence Response Team, ATF, and Alexandria Police Department, are collecting evidence. In addition, the FBI Springfield and St. Louis Evidence Response Teams are searching the subject’s home in Belleville, Illinois.
Individuals who have information regarding Hodgkinson should call the FBI 24-hour access line at 1-800-CALL-FBI and select option 1.
Alexandria Police Beat / VIDEO of shooting scene as gunshot continue unabated for minutes
From NBC 4 News
A gunman who police say opened fire on a congressional baseball practice Wednesday morning in Alexandria, Virginia, injuring House Majority Whip Steven Scalise and four others, died following a shootout with law enforcement officers, President Donald Trump said.
Witnesses, including as many as 22 members of Congress who were at the field for the early-morning practice, described a terrifying scene, with the gunman reloading while standing on the field and the wounded congressman “screaming for help.”
“Everybody probably would have died except for the fact that the U.S. Capitol Hill Police were there and the only reason they were there was because we had a member of (House) leadership on our team,” Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul told MSNBC.
The gunman was identified as James Hodgkinson, from Illinois. Both local and Capitol Police shot at him; he died at a local hospital.
Sen. Bernie Sanders said Hodgkinson had been a volunteer for his presidential campaign. Sanders said he was “sickened by this despicable act” and condemned the shooting “in the strongest possible terms.”
Trump, speaking before noon, called Scalise “a friend, and a very good friend.”
“He’s a patriot and a fighter,” Trump said. “Steve, I want you to know, you have the prayers of not only an entire city, but an entire nation behind you and, frankly, the entire world. Please take a moment today to cherish those you love, and always remember those who serve and keep us safe.”
At a mid-morning press conference, Tim Slater of the FBI said that it was “too early to tell” if the congress members “were targeted or not.” The FBI has taken over the investigation.
Witness Falisa Peoples described the shooter as a white man, dressed in t-shirt and shorts. His demeanor was “calm,” she said.
The other people who were injured were: U.S. Capitol Police Special Agents David Bailey and Crystal Griner; Zack Barth, an aide to Rep. Roger Williams, R-Texas; and Matt Mika, director of government relations for Tysons Foods. MORE
From ABC7 Chicago
Hodgkinson has no felony charges or convictions on record in his home county of St. Clair in Illinois. But he has an extensive history of traffic violations and petty offenses, spanning from 1989 to 2011, according to online court records of St. Clair County.
The vast majority of the cases are traffic violations and nearly all of the cases were later dismissed. The most recent conviction on his record was for a “petty offense” of failure to obtain an electrical contractor’s license, in 2009.
The most serious charges (not convictions) in the records are:
– 1993 charges for DUI, fleeing/attempt to elude police, and resisting/obstructing a peace officer, class A & B misdemeanors (case closed/dismissed, end of supervision)
– 2006 charges for Battery/Cause Bodily Harm (2 counts), Aid/Abet damage to Motor Vehicle. Class A misdemeanors. (Case dismissed)
THE FIRST PRESS CONFERENCE:
From the U. S. House of Representatives History
Four Puerto Rican nationalists, armed with handguns, opened fire onto the House Floor from the back row of the south gallery. At the time, the House was voting on a measure to reauthorize a program allowing migrant Mexican farm workers to work in the country. Numerous Representatives and staff were present, with Speaker Joe Martin presiding over the roll call. In the fusillade, five Representatives were wounded—Alvin Bentley of Michigan, Ben Jensen of Iowa, Clifford Davis of Tennessee, George Fallon of Maryland, and Kenneth Roberts of Alabama. All five survived, although Bentley was critically wounded. Gallery visitors and police quickly subdued the nationalists; later, they were tried and sentenced to long prison terms.
Future Representatives Bill Emerson of Missouri and Paul Kanjorski of Pennsylvania were among a group of Pages who helped to evacuate wounded Members on stretchers to waiting ambulances on the East Front. Bill Goodwin, a House Page who also lent assistance after the shooting, later recalled the fateful day. “That’s something you just don’t forget,” Goodwin remarked. “To this day, I can still hear those bullets going phht-dut, phht-dut alongside me, those two bullets that one landed above Bill Emerson, and one alongside Bill Emerson, which was just eight feet away from me, to my right. I can still hear those bullets hitting that mahogany wall. Phht-dut, you know? What a sound. And the thing is, I saw that it was a gun, you know? I saw it right from the start of it. Saw the guy stand up.”
A police car, ambulance, and jittery crowd gathered at the Capitol after nationalists seeking Puerto Rican independence opened fire in the House Chamber on March 1, 1954. This newspaper photograph circled Capitol policeman Jack Brunner and the Puerto Rican flag he had seized from the perpetrators.
Congressman Alvin Bentley showed reporters where a bullet pierced his chest when four Puerto Rican nationalists opened fire onto the House Floor from the gallery on March 1, 1954. The dissidents—advocating independence for their homeland—wounded five Members: Ben Jensen, Clifford Davis, George Fallon, Kenneth Roberts, and Bentley, the most critically injured.
Congressman Charles Halleck showed Speaker Joe Martin the bullet hole in the desk he was occupying when a group of Puerto Rican separatists opened fire onto the House Floor. The dissidents, proponents of their country’s independence from the United States, shot five Members before being subdued. No one died in the 1954 shooting, but Congressman Alvin Bentley was critically wounded.
Irving Flores Rodriguez, Rafael Cancel Miranda, Lolita Lebron & Andres Figueroa Cordero convicted of a shooting attack in the U.S. Capitol on March 1, 1954. Wanting to highlight the struggle for Puerto Rican independence they began firing their automatic
March 1, 1954
- On the morning of March 1, 1954, four Puerto Rican nationalists—Lolita Lebron, Rafael Cancel Miranda, Andres Figueroa Cordero, and Irving Flores Rodriguez—boarded a train from New York City for Washington, D.C. Since 1898, when the United States took control of Puerto Rico, the status of the island has been debated. Over time, three main viewpoints took shape concerning Puerto Rico’s relationship with the United States: territory, state, or independent nation. The nationalists who traveled to the Capitol supported the most extreme interpretation of the latter—one which called for violence to draw attention to their goal of complete Puerto Rican independence from the United States.
- The House convened at 12:00 pm, with Speaker Joseph W. Martin of Massachusetts presiding. A roll call held shortly after the session opened indicated that 373 Members were present.
- Representative Leo Allen of Illinois introduced House Resolution 450, a measure calling for the reauthorization of a program allowing migrant Mexican farmers to work in the United States.
- During the debate, between 2:00 and 2:30 pm, a number of visitors entered Gallery 11 on the southwest side of the chamber, including the four Puerto Rican nationalists and a group of sixth-grade students from Maryland.
- At 2:30 pm, as Members waited to have their votes counted by Speaker Martin, Lebron began firing a .38 caliber German pistol while shouting about Puerto Rican independence. Her companions joined her, firing at the House Floor. Many witnesses initially mistook the shooting for firecrackers. “A lot of the Congressmen didn’t realize they were real guns,” recalled House Page Bill Goodwin. “A lot of the Congressmen just heard pop-pop-pop-pop going on, and they thought it was firecrackers. Everybody had different ideas. And I saw the gun. I knew they were shooting. They weren’t firecrackers.”1
- At 2:32 pm Speaker Martin declared the House in recess as he sought cover behind a marble pillar on the rostrum. While her companions continued to shoot, Lebron attempted to unfurl a Puerto Rican flag. During the next several minutes, some 16 shots were fired according to police records. Martin later recalled, “Bullets whistled through the chamber in the wildest scene in the entire history of Congress . . . ‘The House stands recessed,’ I declared, unhindered by any parliamentarian.”2
- Three of the shooters attempted to exit the gallery but were overpowered by visitors, Capitol and Metropolitan police officers, House staff, and Representative James Van Zandt of Pennsylvania. The fourth shooter escaped in the chaos but was apprehended later in the day.
- At 2:42 pm Speaker Martin called the House to order and at 2:43 pm the House officially adjourned.
- Five Congressmen were wounded in the shooting, including Representatives Alvin Bentley of Michigan, Kenneth Roberts of Alabama, George Fallon of Maryland, Ben Jensen of Iowa, and Clifford Davis of Tennessee. Bentley, the most seriously injured remarked, “I next remember being hit with what felt like a terrific blow on the chest. I didn’t realize it was a bullet. It felt more as if somebody had taken a club and socked me on the chest and knocked the wind out of me.”3
- Puerto Rican Resident Commissioner Antonio Fernós-Isern, who could not vote, was in his office during the shooting. A trained doctor, he ran toward the Capitol after hearing about the attack to see if he could help the medical personnel. Capitol Police stopped him for security reasons, confining him to his office on the seventh floor of the New (Longworth) House Office Building. Fernós-Isern denounced the attackers as “communist dupes.” “Can it be the doing just of Puerto Rican Nationalists?” he asked a Baltimore Sun journalist rhetorically. “Who benefits? Certainly not Puerto Rico.”4
- Arthur Cameron, a House Page overseer, tried to convince various hospitals and ambulance services that a shooting had occurred at the Capitol. “I said, ‘There’s been a shooting in the House of Representatives. You got to send an ambulance.’ He said, ‘Kid, you shouldn’t joke about things like that,’ and hung up the phone.”5
- Members joined House Pages and staff in caring for the wounded Members. Pages William Emerson, Paul Kanjorski, and Bill Goodwin located stretchers and helped to carry the injured Representatives out of the Capitol. “We sort of took over, ordering the stretchers and getting people put together,” future Representative Kanjorski recalled. “And a group of maybe a half dozen of us really started getting the people put in the stretchers, identifying who they were, and by the time that the ambulances arrived, we were taking them out.”6
- Within minutes of the shooting, the police sealed off the Capitol and surrounding grounds. Guards were stationed at every exit of the Capitol, while police searched the building and established blockades throughout the city until the fourth suspect, Irving Rodriguez, was captured. “By that time guards were stationed everywhere with instructions to shoot to kill and ask questions afterward,” recalled Representative Barratt O’Hara of Illinois. “When I attempted to drive into the Capitol Grounds to attend the conference, a guard pulled a pistol on me. He was halted in firing by a scream from his back. The scream was directed at me, a notification that the conference had been called off.”7
- Speaker Martin held a press conference to discuss the shooting and security measures. “They came in with the tourists in a section where no tickets are needed,” he noted. “We’re going back tomorrow, so that everyone will have to have a ticket. We’ll stop tourists till this is straightened out. We’ll have a new set of admission cards.”8
March 2, 1954
- Puerto Rican Governor Luis Muñoz Marín flew to Washington on March 2 to express his condolences. The governor visited all the wounded Congressmen, except Bentley, who was unable to receive visitors.
- When the House reconvened at noon, Resident Commissioner Fernós-Isern was the first to speak, walking to the well as his colleagues applauded. “Mr. Speaker, on no occasion could I address this House with deeper sorrow,” he intoned. “To add to my consternation, the name of the dear island of my birth was invoked by the reckless vandals who staged this terrible deed yesterday. . . . The bullets that were shot did not only sorely hurt five of our colleagues; they all hit the heart of Puerto Rico.”9 He submitted resolutions of condemnation from Muñoz Marín and from the Puerto Rican legislature.
- Governor Muñoz Marín stood in the well of the House, shook hands with Members, and received a standing ovation. Speaker Martin voiced his support for the Puerto Rican government. “A few gangsters can’t break up the friendship of great nations,” he said.10
- Presented with a range of new security options in the wake of the attack, Speaker Martin remained careful to balance safety with public access to the House of Representatives. “We did indeed tighten up the security arrangements a good deal,” the Speaker observed. “Nevertheless I rejected the most ambitious proposal, one that called for installation of bullet-proof glass around the front of the galleries. For one thing, I was advised that the weight of this glass would be too great for the galleries to support. For another, I felt that, danger or not, Americans do not want their Congress walled off from the people by glass.”11
- All five injured Members recovered from their wounds and returned to their House service. Congressman Bentley, the most seriously injured, continued serving in the House until 1961. Representatives Davis, Jensen, and Roberts served for a decade before leaving the House in 1965. Of the group, Representative Fallon remained the longest, serving until 1971 and chairing the Committee on Public Works.
- Page Bill Emerson later served as a congressional aide before winning election to the U.S. House as a Republican from Missouri in 1980; he served from 1981 until his death in 1996. Page Paul Kanjorski was elected to the U.S. House as a Democrat from Pennsylvania in 1984 and served from 1985 to 2011.
- The four Puerto Rican nationalists—Lebron, Miranda, Cordero, and Rodriguez—were indicted, tried, and convicted in federal court for their actions. They received sentences ranging from 16 to 75 years in federal prison. More than two decades later, President Jimmy Carter granted clemency to the shooters.12