WASHINGTON, D.C. — Georgia Representative Barry Loudermilk, District 11, stood near the batter’s box Wednesday morning when the first shots rang out. Moments later he was joining others, seeking cover from a gunman who would shoot five people, including two police officers and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise.
Scalise, struck in the hip while standing near second base, could only manage to drag himself to the outfield. Meanwhile, the shooting continued between the gunman and responding law enforcement for ten minutes. During that time, Loudermilk recounted the feeling of trying to help his friend while being pinned down in the first base side dugout.
“He was targeting us. There were civilians in the park, a lady about 30 yards to my left with some dogs laying on the ground; he had a clear shot at her and never took one shot,” Loudermilk explained.
The baseball field belongs to nearby T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, VA, best known from the movie Remember the Titans. On this morning, however, it served as the practice field for Republicans getting ready for an annual baseball matchup against Democrats that began in 1909.
Away from Washington, talking with ministers
“I was on the field, but I’m okay,” Loudermilk expressed in a statement to media. “This was a senseless act of evil. Please pray for those who were shot and their families.”
Loudermilk reputation carries in his district as one open to people of faith, noted David Franklin, associational missionary for Bartow Baptist Association.
“Barry is a great guy,” Franklin said. “He just did a listening session for ministers in Bartow County, where they asked him pointed questions about how he’s working to represent them in Washington.”
Loudermilk’s response to those questions both impressed and concerned the audience, Franklin added.
“The ministers had no idea the spiritual darkness he has to work in up there. They were blown away by what Barry had to say. Everyone was glad they were there to hear it.”
Among injured, credit to law enforcement
Gunman James Hodgkinson, 66, held a Belleville, IL address but had been living in the Washington, D.C. area in a van since March. A supporter of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, his social media posts dripped with hatred for Republicans and conservatives. On the same day of the shootings Sanders spoke from the Senate floor. There he described the act as “despicable” and condemning it “in the strongest possible terms.”
In the end, Hodgkinson would be the only fatality of the day, shot by two Capitol police members there on security detail.
Those injured in the shooting included:
- Scalise – majority whip in the U.S. House and third in line for succession to the president. His most recent updates on social media list him in critical condition.
- David Bailey – Capitol police officer for more than nine years who also serves as a special agent for Scalise’s security detail. Even after being shot, he made his way and began tending to the fallen representative.
- Zack Barth – congressional staff for Rep. Roger Williams of Texas. He was shot in the leg while standing in the outfield.
- Crystal Griner – Capitol police officer/special agent security detail and former college basketball star. Like Bailey, she was shot but returned fire to eventually bring down the gunmen. Both officers are credited with preventing “a massacre” by witnesses.
- Matt Mika – former congressional staff, current lobbyist for Tyson Foods.
Loudermilk joined those in praising Bailey and Griner.
“If it wasn’t for them it would have been a killing field out there today,” he told Atlanta’s Fox5 News. “We are very blessed that God was on that baseball field.”