House Majority Whip Steve Scalise in critical condition after surgery: Medstar Washington Hospital

ALEXANDRIA, Va., June 14 (Reuters) - Congressman Steve Scalise, the No. 3 Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives, was in critical condition on Wednesday night after he and three others were shot as they practiced for a charity baseball game.

The gunman, who had posted angry messages against President Donald Trump and other Republicans on social media, opened fire on a group of Republican lawmakers and colleagues at a baseball field in Alexandria, Virginia, outside Washington. He was wounded in a gunfight with Capitol Hill police at the scene and later died.

Scalise was shot in the left hip, suffering broken bones, injuries to internal organs and severe bleeding.

RELATED: Scene of the shooting at congressional baseball practice

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A police officer mans a shooting scene after a gunman opened fire on Republican members of Congress during a baseball practice near Washington in Alexandria, Virginia, June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Police survey a shooting scene after a gunman opened fire on Republican members of Congress during a baseball practice near Washington in Alexandria, Virginia, June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Police investigate a shooting scene after a gunman opened fire on Republican members of Congress during a baseball practice near Washington in Alexandria, Virginia, June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) talks to reporters after a gunman opened fire on Republican members of Congress during a baseball practice near Washington in Alexandria, Virginia, U.S., June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
People walk away from the Eugene Simpson Stadium Park in Alexandria, Virginia, U.S., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. The third highest ranked U.S. House Republican and at least four others were injured Wednesday morning in a shooting at a congressional baseball practice field the Alexandria neighborhood witnesses said. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A police officer stands next to a vehicle with a damaged window near the Eugene Simpson Stadium Park in Alexandria, Virginia, U.S., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. The third highest ranked U.S. House Republican and at least four others were injured Wednesday morning in a shooting at a congressional baseball practice field the Alexandria neighborhood witnesses said. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A police officer stands guard near the Eugene Simpson Stadium Park in Alexandria, Virginia, U.S., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. The third highest ranked U.S. House Republican and at least four others were injured Wednesday morning in a shooting at a congressional baseball practice field the Alexandria neighborhood witnesses said. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
People stand past crime scene tape near the Eugene Simpson Stadium Park in Alexandria, Virginia, U.S., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. The third highest ranked U.S. House Republican and at least four others were injured Wednesday morning in a shooting at a congressional baseball practice field the Alexandria neighborhood witnesses said. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Police tape is viewed near the crime scene of an early morning shooting in Alexandria, Virginia, June 14, 2017. At least five people people including a top Republican congressman were wounded in a Washington suburb early Wednesday morning when a shooting erupted as they practiced for an annual baseball game between lawmakers. Senior congressman Steve Scalise was shot in the hip, according to fellow Republican lawmaker Mo Brooks who told CNN at least two law enforcement officers and one congressional staffer were also shot in the incident in Alexandria, Virginia. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
ALEXANDRIA, VA - JUNE 14: Investigators gather at Eugene Simpson Field, the site where a gunman opened fire June 14, 2017 in Alexandria, Virginia. Multiple injuries were reported from the instance, the site where a congressional baseball team was holding an early morning practice, including House Republican Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) who was reportedly shot in the hip. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
ALEXANDRIA, VA - JUNE 14: Members the FBI survey the damages possibly caused by gun shots on a wall at the site of this morning's shooting at Eugene Simpson Stadium Park June 14, 2017 in Alexandria, Virginia. U.S. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) was among five wounded in the attack, including the suspected gunman, as Republican congressional members practiced for a charity baseball game. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
ALEXANDRIA, VA - JUNE 14: A member of the FBI Evidence Response Team collects evidence at a vehicle whose window is broken at the site of this morning's shooting at Eugene Simpson Stadium Park June 14, 2017 in Alexandria, Virginia. U.S. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) was among five wounded in the attack, including the suspected gunman, as Republican congressional members practiced for a charity baseball game. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
ALEXANDRIA, VA - JUNE 14: Members of the FBI Evidence Response Team collect evidence at the site of this morning's shooting at Eugene Simpson Stadium Park June 14, 2017 in Alexandria, Virginia. U.S. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) was among five wounded in the attack, including the suspected gunman, as Republican congressional members practiced for a charity baseball game. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
US Representative Chuck Fleischmann, Republican of Tennessee, speaks to the media about a shooting incident during a Congressional baseball practice in Virginia after returning to the US Capitol in Washington, DC, June 14, 2017. Several people including a top Republican congressman were wounded in a Washington suburb early Wednesday morning when a gunman opened fire as they practiced for an annual baseball game between lawmakers. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
US Senator Bernie Sanders, Independent of Vermont, gets on an elevator as he heads to a vote at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, June 14, 2017, following a report that the shooter in the attack targeting Congressmen in nearby Virginia was a Sanders supporter. Several people including a top Republican congressman were wounded in a Washington suburb early Wednesday morning when a gunman opened fire as they practiced for an annual baseball game between lawmakers. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
US Speaker of the House Paul Ryan walks to his office after making a statement on the House floor at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, June 14, 2017, following a shooting incident targeting Congressmen in nearby Virginia. Several people including a top Republican congressman were wounded in a Washington suburb early Wednesday morning when a gunman opened fire as they practiced for an annual baseball game between lawmakers. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
ALEXANDRIA, VA - JUNE 14: A marker is placed next to a piece of evidence at the scene of this morning's shooting at Eugene Simpson Stadium Park June 14, 2017 in Alexandria, Virginia. U.S. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) was among five wounded in the attack, including the suspected gunman, as Republican congressional members practiced for a charity baseball game. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
ALEXANDRIA, VA - JUNE 14: Investigators search for evidence at the scene of this morning's shooting at Eugene Simpson Stadium Park June 14, 2017 in Alexandria, Virginia. U.S. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) was among five wounded in the attack, including the suspected gunman, as Republican congressional members practiced for a charity baseball game. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 14: The Peace Monument at the U.S. Capitol is shown, on June 14, 2017 in Washington, DC. This morning House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) three others were shot by a gunman during Congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
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He underwent surgery but would need further operations, the MedStar Washington Hospital Center said.

"Rep. Steve Scalise, one of the truly great people, is in very tough shape - but he is a real fighter. Pray for Steve!" Trump said on Twitter after visiting the hospital on Wednesday night.

The gunman, identified by police as 66-year-old James Hodgkinson from the St. Louis suburb of Belleville, Illinois, fired repeatedly at the men playing on the baseball field on Wednesday morning.

Congressmen at the ballpark described hearing loud noises like the sound of firecrackers and 15 to 20 people lying on the ground and realizing they had only baseball bats to defend themselves against bullets.

"When he started shooting, he was shooting to kill people. And thank God he wasn't a very good shot," said Representative Joe Barton, the Republican team's manager.

SEE ALSO: The suspected congressional baseball practice shooter was a fierce Trump opponent who called him a 'traitor'

Also wounded were a congressional aide and one former aide who now works as a lobbyist, officials said. One Capitol Hill police officer suffered a gunshot wound and another officer twisted an ankle and was released from a hospital, police said.

"It was not only chaotic but it was a combat situation," Alexandria Police Chief Mike Brown told reporters.

'IT'S GOT TO STOP'

While police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation said it was too early to determine whether it was a deliberate political attack, the shooting intensified concerns about the sharp divide and bitter rhetoric in U.S. politics.

FBI special agent Tim Slater declined to comment on whether the gunman had a vendetta against Republicans.

"We continue to actively investigate the shooter's motives, acquaintances and whereabouts that led to today's incidents," Slater told reporters. No one else was in custody, he said.

The gunman was believed to have been in the Alexandria area since March, Slater said. Investigators believe that the suspect had been living out of his vehicle.

Wednesday's shooting revived debate about gun rights in America. Virginia's Democratic governor, Terry McAuliffe, urged gun control measures.

RELATED: Social reactions to shooting at congressional baseball practice

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Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, a true friend and patriot, was badly injured but will fully recover. Our thoughts and prayers are with him.
Both @POTUS & @VP are aware of the developing situation in Virginia. Our thoughts and prayers are with all affected.
Congressional baseball field shooting went on for 10 minutes. @SenRandPauI says w/out police presence would be "killing field" "a massacre"
@AlexandriaVAPD This kind of thing is not ok. Use words, not bullets. Hope the congressman recovers quickly.
Thoughts and prayers w my Republican baseball friends this morning. Dem practice cancelled holding in dugout w security
This morning the hearts of the whole House are with @SteveScalise, the brave Capitol police, staff, and all those who were in harm's way.
There has been an unthinkable shooting this morning. Our thoughts & prayers are with Congressman @SteveScalise. https://t.co/DqyUXrEZaU
Karen & I are praying for @SteveScalise, the Capitol Police, & all hurt for a speedy recovery. Our hearts are with them & their loved ones.
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Scalise has been a strong opponent of gun control measures.

Hodgkinson had raged against Trump on social media and was a member of anti-Republican groups on Facebook including, "The Road to Hell Is Paved With Republicans," "Terminate The Republican Party," and "Donald Trump is not my President," a search of his Facebook profile showed.

As businessman Trump rose to become the Republican nominee in the 2016 presidential election, his brash style and outspoken views on immigration and other policies led to mass protests, including on the weekend of his inauguration in January.

The charity ballgame between a Republican team and a Democratic team will go ahead as scheduled on Thursday at Nationals Park, home of the Washington Nationals Major League Baseball team.

Representative Tim Ryan, who early on Wednesday was practicing for the ballgame with fellow Democrats, told reporters that Washington politicians needed to cool their rhetoric.

"We've got to get back to ... where things aren't so personal and we're so judgmental of each other. It's got to stop. A member of the U.S. Congress got shot because they didn't like (his) political views," Ryan said.

CALLS FOR UNITY

Trump, who announced the gunman's death, called for unity. "We are strongest when we are unified and when we work together for the common good," he said.

In a show of bipartisanship, Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan said on the floor of the House: "An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us." The House's top Democrat, Nancy Pelosi, echoed Ryan's message.

The shooting happened shortly after 7 a.m. There were 20 House members and two senators present, and the shooting lasted about 10 minutes, said Barton.

Two lawmakers who were at the scene, Representatives Ron DeSantis and Jeff Duncan, indicated there might have been a political motive in the attack.

RELATED: A look at Rep. Steve Scalise

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U.S. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise speaks to reporters about the appointment of a Special Counsel in the Russia investigations on his way to a vote on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., May 17, 2017. REUTERS/Zach Gibson
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) speaks to reporters at the U.S. Capitol, hours before an expected vote to repeal Obamacare in Washington, D.C., U.S., May 4, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) leaves the office of Speaker Paul Ryan ahead of a crucial vote on the Affordable Care Act at the Capitol Building in Washington, DC, U.S. March 23, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
Jared Kushner, senior White House adviser, right, and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, a Republican from Louisiana, smile during a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump, not pictured, and House and Senate leadership in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, June 6, 2017. Trump is bringing lawmakers to the White House in hopes of kick-starting his legislative agenda while Washington focuses on the latest twists and turns in the Russia investigation. Photographer: Olivier Douliery/Pool via Bloomberg
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) speaks about the American Health Care Act, the Republican replacement to Obamacare, at the Republican National Committee in Washington, U.S., March 8, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 17: House Majority Whip. Steve Scalise (R-LA) speaks to the media on May 17, 2017 in Washington, DC. Today the Justice Department announced that former FBI director Robert Mueller will be a special counsel overseeing the Russia investigation. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, Majority Whip and (R-La. 1st District),, speaks at President Trump's press conference with members of the GOP, on the passage of legislation to roll back the Affordable Care Act, in the Rose Garden of the White House, On Thursday, May 4, 2017. (Photo by Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MAY 4: House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., leads a group of Republican members of Congress to the House floor for the votes on repeal and replace of Obamacare on Thursday, May 4, 2017. The members met with White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus in Scalise's office before the vote. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) speaks with House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) as they arrive for a conference meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., April 26, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
U.S. Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) (L-R), U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence, Representative Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Representative Steve Scalise (R-LA) speak to reporters during a joint news conference following a House Republican party conference meeting in Washington, U.S. September 13, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
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Duncan said that as he left the field, the man who would later open fire approached him in the parking lot. "He asked me who was practicing this morning, Republicans or Democrats, and I said: 'That's the Republicans practicing,'" Duncan told reporters. DeSantis gave a similar account.

Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent who sought the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, said he had been told that Hodgkinson had served as a volunteer with his campaign.

"Let me be as clear as I can be: Violence of any kind is unacceptable in our society and I condemn this action in the strongest possible terms," Sanders said.

SEE ALSO: Paul Ryan: 'An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us'

Ryan, the House speaker, is reviewing rules on how rank-and-file lawmakers can increase their personal security, according to several lawmakers.

"Members get threats on a regular basis and have trouble determining which are real," House Democratic whip Steny Hoyer told reporters.

'HEROISM' OF POLICE

The shooting took place at Eugene Simpson Stadium Park in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, across the Potomac River from Washington.

Representative Mo Brooks told CNN that during batting practice, he heard a "bam" and then a quick succession of shots and saw the gunman shooting through the holes in a chain link fence.

When Scalise was shot, he went down on the infield between first and second base, then dragged himself into the grassy outfield as the incident unfolded, leaving a trail of blood, Brooks said.

Two Capitol police officers who were there to provide security for the lawmakers engaged the gunman with pistols, Brooks said.

"But for the Capitol police and the heroism they showed, it could very well have been a large-scale massacre. All we would have had would have been baseball bats versus a rifle. Those aren't good odds," Brooks said.

Wednesday's attack was the first shooting of a member of Congress since January 2011, when Democratic Representative Gabby Giffords was seriously wounded in an assassination attempt at a gathering of constituents in Tucson, Arizona. Six people were killed. Giffords resigned from Congress and became an activist for gun restrictions.

(Additional reporting by Susan Cornwell, David Morgan, Richard Cowan, Patricia Zengerle, Julia Edwards Ainsley, Doina Chiacu and Susan Heavey, Steve Holland and David Alexander in Washington and Gina Cherelus and Peter Szekely in New York; Writing by Will Dunham, Grant McCool and Amanda Becker; Editing by Frances Kerry and Peter Cooney)

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