Last updated: June 14, 2017 - 10:53am
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congressman Lou Barletta has played in every Congressional baseball game since becoming a member of the House of Representatives in 2011.
He sat out this year’s game, however, and was not at Wednesday’s early morning practice with his Republican colleagues when a shooter ambushed them at a park in Alexandria, Va.
“While I am safe, I am sickened by this morning’s horrific shooting,” Barletta, Hazleton, said in a statement released shortly after the shootings.
“My prayers are with my friend Steve Scalise, my colleagues, their staff, the local first responders and the Capitol Police officers whose bravery save lives,” he went on.
While Barletta, 61, said this was the first year that he chose not to play in the annual charity ballgame pitting Republicans versus Democrats, he did play with Scalise, the third-highest ranking GOP House member from Louisiana, in prior games including last year.
Barletta, the former Hazleton mayor, was a pretty good ballplayer in his younger days while attending Luzerne County Community College and Bloomsburg State College. He was given a tryout with the Cincinnati Reds but never reached the minor leagues.
The Congressional baseball game has been held each summer in Washington since 1909. The series is tied, 39-39-1.
The ballgame is scheduled to be played at 7:05 p.m. Thursday at Nationals Park in southeast Washington. Funds raised benefit three Washington-area charities that help children.
Here's the latest AP report on the shooting:
Top House GOP leader shot at congressional baseball practice
By ERICA WERNER, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — A top House Republican, Steve Scalise of Louisiana, was shot by a rifle-wielding gunman Wednesday at a congressional baseball practice just outside of Washington. Several other people were also wounded, officials said.
Capitol Police said officers who were part of Scalise's security detail returned fire and wounded the shooter, who was taken into custody. In all, five people were taken to area hospitals, including the suspect, Alexandria police said.
Scalise, 51, the No. 3 House Republican leader first elected to the House in 2008, was in stable condition and undergoing surgery at a nearby hospital. His injuries were not believed to be life-threatening. It was not known the condition of the others who were shot.
President Donald Trump said he was "deeply saddened by this tragedy" and was monitoring developments.
The shooting occurred at a popular park and baseball complex in Alexandria, Virginia, where lawmakers and others were gathered for a morning practice about 7 a.m. The team was taking batting practice when a gunshot rang out and chaos erupted, lawmakers on the scene said.
"All of a sudden we heard a very loud shot. The gunman was over by the third base dugout with a clear view of the field," Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., told CNN.
Scalise was fielding balls on second base when he was shot, Flake said. He said the congressman dragged himself 10 to 15 yards into the outfield to get further away from the gunman.
Initial reports said that as many as 50 shots had been fired, but Flake said, "50 would be an understatement. He had a lot of ammo."
Katie Filous was walking her two dogs near the field when she heard "a lot of shots, probably more than 20." She said the shooting "went on for quite a while."
Filous said she saw the shooter hit a uniformed law enforcement officer, who she said was later evacuated by helicopter. She said the officer had gotten out of a parked car, drawn a handgun and shouted something to the gunman, who then fired.
Once the gunman was down, Flake ran to Scalise and tended to him. He said he grabbed Scalise's phone to call his wife.
"I just didn't want her to wake up and learn the news," Flake said.
Rep. Mo Brooks, an Alabama Republican, said that Scalise had what appeared to be "a hip wound." The Alabama lawmaker said he colleague "crawled into the outfield, leaving a trail of blood."
"We started giving him the liquids, I put pressure on his wound in his hip," Brooks said.
Brooks said two law enforcement officers were believed to be among the others shot.
Texas Rep. Roger Williams says a member of his staff was also shot and was receiving medical attention. Williams did not say what condition the staffer was in.
House Speaker Paul Ryan's office said Scalise's wounds were not believed to be life-threatening and that a member of the security detail was also shot.
Rep. Jeff Duncan said in a statement that he was at the practice and said "saw the shooter."
"Please pray for my colleagues," Duncan said.
Associated Press reporters Chad Day, Mary Clare Jalonick, Ken Thomas, Vivian Salama and Sarah Brumfield contributed to this report.