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US Republican leader, aides shot; Trump says gunman killed

IANS  |  Washington 

The gunman who opened fire at a Republican baseball practice match in Virginia state on Wednesday, injuring a key US Republican politician and multiple congressional aides, has been identified. President Donald Trump said the gunman had been killed.

James Hodgkinson, 66, a resident of Belleville in Illinois, has been identified as the shooter by federal law enforcement sources, CNN reported.

Hodgkinson's Facebook page is largely political, his profile picture is a caricature of Bernie Sanders as Uncle Sam, while his feed is filled with anti-Trump sentiments such as "Trump is guilty and should go to prison for treason".

He also "liked" a political cartoon that suggested House of Representatives majority whip Steve Scalise should be fired.

According to both congressional and law enforcement sources, the shooting appears to be a "deliberate attack".

"It's too early to tell whether the shooting was an act of terrorism or whether members of Congress were specifically targeted," FBI special agent Tim Slater told reporters at a Wednesday morning news conference.

Meanwhile, security has been tightened at the Capitol Hill and regular proceedings were canceled or postponed.

Scalise, 51, was shot in the hip. He was undergoing surgery at a hospital and was in stable condition.

Representative Mo Brooks told CNN that "at least five" persons were injured in the shooting, including two law enforcement officers and a congressional aide.

Capitol Police said officers who were part of Scalise's security detail returned fire and wounded the shooter, who was taken into custody.

President Donald Trump said on Twitter that "Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, a true friend and patriot, was badly injured but will fully recover. Our thoughts and prayers are with him."

"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," he said.

In a statement, Texas Rep. Roger Williams, one of the team's coaches, said one of his staff members was shot during the incident and was receiving medical attention.

Members of Congress were practising for a baseball game that was scheduled for Thursday night at Nationals Park.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul said "it would have been a massacre" without Capitol Hill Police.

"Nobody would have survived without the Capitol Hill police," Paul said on CNN. "It would have been a massacre without them."

Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake added that he saw a member of Scalise's security detail return fire on the gunman for what felt like 10 minutes, even though the police officer was wounded in the leg.

"Fifty (shots) would be an understatement, I'm quite sure," Flake said when asked about the total amount of gunfire, including police returning fire.

Flake said two members of Scalise's security detail were wounded, and another man was wounded in the chest.

Rep. Ron DeSantis told Fox News he left just before the shooting.

DeSantis said as he walked to his car, a man asked him if it was Republicans or Democrats practising.

About three minutes later, around 7.15 a.m., the shooting began, DeSantis said. It reportedly lasted about 10 minutes.

About 15 to 25 persons were at Simpson Field in Alexandria for the baseball practice when the gunman opened fire, eyewitnesses said.

Scalise is the first member of Congress to be shot since former Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords was shot in January 2011.



(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, June 14 2017. 23:04 IST