GOP Baseball Practice Shooting: Lawmaker Saw Gunman "Taking Aim At Us'
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Alexandria, Va., police say they received a call at 7:09 this morning. 7:09 was when they received a call about gunshots being fired at a baseball diamond, a baseball diamond where more than 20 senators and representatives were practicing early this morning. Chief Michael Brown is talking now, holding a press conference. And let's bring that in and just listen to a little bit of that.
(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Thank you, Chief. I would like to first start out by thanking the Alexandria Police.
INSKEEP: OK, we're not hearing very much there from Chief Michael Brown. We'll see if we can get a better feed of that. And whenever we can, we will let you know. But Chief Brown actually just wrapped up his statement. He did make a statement that Alexandria, Va., police received a call at 7:09. They responded to the scene. They were among those who returned fire upon a gunman.
And we know from other witnesses - we know from a number of witnesses that more than 50 shots, according to the witnesses, were fired by a gunman who had at least one weapon, possibly more according to some descriptions, shot and wounded five people on that baseball diamond, including Steve Scalise, representative of Louisiana, the No. 3 House Republican. He is described as - and he will - his office is saying that he will recover. But he was shot and seriously wounded. A number of other people, including law enforcement officers, were wounded as well.
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
Yeah, we understand that Steve Scalise is currently in surgery and at least two Capitol Hill Police officers were also shot in this morning's shooting.
INSKEEP: And now let's go to Representative Mo Brooks of Alabama. He is one of the lawmakers who was - well, he was on the baseball diamond this morning practicing baseball.
Congressman, glad you're OK.
MO BROOKS: Thank you.
INSKEEP: Can you just describe what happened first?
BROOKS: Well, I was engaged in batting practice, probably around 7 o'clock. I was on the third-base side of home plate. And I heard this loud blam along the third base line, just on the other side of the third base dugout, which was cinderblock. And I looked over there, and then I see the rifle. It's up against the fence or maybe through the fence, but it's shooting through the fence holes, chain-link fence.
And I hear someone scream, active shooter. I think I heard Steve Scalise also scream. He might have been the first thing I heard. Apparently, he was shot very early in the process. He was shot in the - I think it was the left hip. You know, I'm frozen for a second as I can't believe that this is actually a gun that is being discharged at the congressmen and congressional staff that are on the field. I can see the shooter now. And all this has probably taken place in a second or two, but it seemed a lot longer.
INSKEEP: Can you...
BROOKS: And I realized...
INSKEEP: ...Can you describe...
BROOKS: ...That I'm about...
INSKEEP: ....When you say you can see the shooter, what did you see? Where was he exactly? What did he have in his hands?
BROOKS: He had, in his hands, the rifle that he was using to target congressmen and congressional staff. He was probably 10, 15, 20 feet, some distance past the third base dugout on the outside of the field on the opposite side of the screen, chain-link fence. And he is taking aim at various individuals. And at that moment, it occurred to me - and this is probably three or four or five seconds in at most. Time seems to slow down.
BROOKS: I was able to see that he was taking aim at us. And I recognized that if I can see him, if he turns his field of view about 20 to 30 degrees to his right, I'm his closest target because I'm on the third-base side of home plate with a baseball bat in my hand. So I immediately, recognizing the risk, ran around home plate and the batting cage. It's got a netting above the home plate area. That's to catch foul balls. But the bottom of it, it's about 4 foot high of plastic, blue plastic.
So I hit the ground behind that plastic. There were some other members of - congressmen or senators, staffers who were also on the ground - two or three or four others. And the shooter with the gun, of course, keeps shooting. You hear a lot of screaming going on. And it occurred to me that if that shooter walks towards home plate around the outside of the dugout, we're going to be lying on the ground about 15 to 20 feet where he'll have a clear shot at us.
BROOKS: And at some point, I made the decision - I don't know if others who were lying on the ground with me made the decision at the same time - but we got up. And we dove into the first base dugout. So we were in an open area, open to the shooter's aim, line of fire, for about 15 yards, 20 yards, whatever that distance is from home plate to the first base dugout. And we dove into the dugout.
The dugout is recessed about a foot and a half, 2 feet down. So now you're below ground. But if the shooter - if he does make it to home plate, outside the field still, he'll have a clear line of sight into that dugout. While I'm lying, taking cover on the ground, the floor of the dugout, I noticed that one of our staffers - and I wish I could remember his name. But normally, I would, but right now I can't.
BROOKS: He's bleeding from his leg. He's been shot in the calf. He's a real trooper. He saying, hey, you know, I'm OK. Don't worry about me. But I see that blood flowing out, so I pulled the belt off of my shorts. And myself and another gentleman applied it as a tourniquet to help slow down the blood flow.
This is while the gunfire is going on. But, you know, we can't see the shooter now. We're below ground level just a little bit, keeping our heads low. And then I look over to my right a little bit - still looking at the dirt - and hearing gunshots coming from my right, about 5 feet from my head - 5, 6, 7 feet. I'm going, oh, my goodness, a second shooter. But this one, fortunately...
INSKEEP: And that was the Capitol?
BROOKS: Yeah, so it was a Capitol Police officer who was using our cinderblock dugout as cover. And he was shooting from around the edge. Now, keep in mind, he's shooting almost all the way across the baseball diamond. And it's a rifle over a significant distance against two security Capitol Police officers with pistols.
INSKEEP: Congressman, I'm obliged to...
BROOKS: It's not a real fair fight.
INSKEEP: ...I'm obliged to stop you there for a moment. If you'll stay on the line, we'd like to come back after a short break, which we're required to take for our NPR stations, and hear...
BROOKS: I understand.
INSKEEP: ...A little bit more of your story. We are talking with Congressman Mo Brooks of Alabama on this morning of a shooting outside Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.