WASHINGTON - Two of of the four men who represent Berks County in Congress are members of the Republican baseball team that was practicing Wednesday morning when gunfire erupted on a field outside Washington, D.C.
Neither U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello of Pennsylvania's 6th District nor U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan of the state's 7th District were on the field in Arlington, Virginia, when a rifle-wielding man opened fire, shooting five people.
The victims have been identified as House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana; Zack Barth, an aide to U.S. Rep. Roger Williams of Texas; two Capitol police officers -- David Bailey and Krystal Griner; and Matt Mika, the director of government relations for Arkansas-based Tyson Foods' Washington, D.C., office.
Costello, a second-term congressman from Chester County, said he also would have been there if he had not missed his ride to the practice by two minutes.
"We gotta get there ourselves, so members carpool together," Costello told WFMZ's Amanda VanAllen. "We always agreed that if I'm not there right at 6, they leave without me, and it means I'm probably not coming that day or I'll go find another ride."
Costello said he couldn't find another ride, so he went about planning for the rest of his day.
"At 7:45, I heard on the news baseball practice, shooting, Congress, and I looked up and the field that we practice on was being displayed on the television," Costello said.
The congressman, who donned a Reading Fightin Phils uniform for his role as the Republicans' shortstop in the last two congressional baseball games in Washington, said all sorts of things immediately started going through his mind.
"Is he [Scalise] alright? Who else was shot? What were the circumstances that led to this?" Costello added. "It could have easily been me from where the shooter was on the third-base line and where he was shooting."
Costello said he gives a lot of credit to the Capitol police officers who were on hand as part of Scalise's security detail for preventing further tragedy.
"It didn't take long to realize that if Steve wasn't at practice today, it would have been a lot worse for everybody, because it was his security detail," Costello told Amanda VanAllen. "If it weren't for them, it would have been a lot, lot uglier."
Meehan, who had a previously scheduled engagement that kept him from attending the practice, also praised the security detail.
"My first thoughts go to the heroism of the Capitol police that were there and responded immediately in a manner that likely saved the lives of a number of people, members of Congress, as well as the staffers that are out there each morning helping us," Meehan said.
Scalise was shot in the hip and flown to MedStar Washington Hospital Center, where he underwent surgery.
"Prior to entering surgery, the Whip was in good spirits and spoke to his wife by phone," his office said in a statement. "He is grateful for the brave actions of U.S. Capitol Police, first responders, and colleagues."
The other injuries, including those of two police officers, are reported to be non-life-threatening.
"That's a big relief, because that's the single most important thing out of all this," Costello said.
The suspected shooter, identified as James T. Hodgkinson, 66, died of wounds he suffered when he was shot by police, according to President Trump.
"It's just fortunate, because Steve Scalise is a member of leadership. He has a security detail there," Meehan said. "Otherwise, we would just be a bunch of guys out on a normal morning practicing."
U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent, who also represents Berks County but is not a member of the baseball team, released the following statement:
"The news from Alexandria this morning is devastating. My thoughts and prayers are with my colleague Rep. Steve Scalise, the Congressional staffers, and police officers who were injured this morning. I am grateful for the courage of the Capitol Police and their quick actions this morning. Neither my staff nor I was at the practice, but we are continuing to monitor the situation."
"Praying for Majority Whip Congressman Steve Scalise, the staff, and Capitol Police who were shot in this horrific incident this morning," said U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker, another Berks County congressman.
Linda Haag, who was born on April 25, 1944, died Saturday of natural causes.Read More »
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