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U.S. House GOP Whip in critical condition after shooting, gunman posted anti-Trump rants

(Xinhua)    10:40, June 15, 2017

U.S.-VIRGINIA-REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMEN-GUNSHOT

Policemen work at the site of the gunshot at Eugene Simpson Stadium Park in Alexandria, Virginia state, the United States, on June 14, 2017. The gunman who opened fire Wednesday morning at a U.S. congressional baseball practice field has been identified as James T. Hodgkinson, a white male in his 60s. (Xinhua/Yin Bogu)

WASHINGTON, June 14 (Xinhua) -- U.S. House Republican Whip Steve Scalise was in critical condition following surgery after being shot Wednesday morning by a gunman at a congressional baseball practice field in Virginia, hospital officials said.

Scalise was critically injured and remained in critical condition as of Wednesday afternoon, according to MedStar Washington Hospital Center.

Witnesses earlier said Scalise was felled by a bullet to his hip, and crawled across the field during the shooting.

The gunman, identified as James Hodgkinson III, a 66-year-old white male from Illinois, opened a barrage of gunfire at a congressional baseball practice field in Alexandria, Virginia. Five people were wounded during the shooting, including Scalise, a House staffer, a lobbyist for Tyson Foods and two Capitol police officers.

U.S. Capitol Police Chief Matthew Verderosa said the two wounded police officers do not have life-threatening injuries.

In remarks made from the White Houseshortly before noon, U.S. President Donald Trump said the gunman died from injuries after the shooting. He was wounded in the gun battle with police.

Trump also said he spoke with Scalise's wife and offered his full support to the congressman's family. He called Scalise a friend, patriot and fighter, and called for unity of the country.

"We may have our differences, but we do well in times like these to remember that everyone who serves in our nation's capital is here because, above all, they love our country," Trump said.

A Facebookpage believed to belong to Hodgkinson includes pictures of 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and rants against Trump and Republicans. One of his posts read: "Trump is a Traitor. Trump Has Destroyed Our Democracy. It's Time to Destroy Trump &Co."

Sanders said Hodgkinson volunteered on his presidential campaign and denounced the shooter's actions.

"I am sickened by this despicable act," he said in a statement delivered on the Senate floor.

The shooting unfolded shortly after 7:00 a.m. during the final practice before Thursday night's scheduled charity game between Republicans and Democrats at Nationals Park.

Tim Slater of the FBI which is now leading the investigation said that it is "too early to tell whether anyone was targeted."

"It's really raw now. We're exploring all angles," said Slater.


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