A shooting on Wednesday morning that targeted members of Congress was not enough to stop them from playing in the annual Congressional baseball game on Thursday night.
James Hodgkinson opened fire and injured five people including Majority Whip Steve Scalise. The Republican leader was shot Wednesday morning during a baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia. Three others were also shot including a Capitol police officer.
Scalise has undergone three surgeries and remains hospitalized in critical condition late Thursday night. He was supposed to play with his teammates in Thursday night’s game against Democratic members of Congress, but lawmakers said the game will go on.
"We just have to remind ourselves we are the only country in the world this happens," U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy said. "No other industrialized country averages a mass shooting every single day."
Murphy, who is playing for the Democrats on Thursday night, said he knows Scalise would want the game to go on.
"Steve is going to be on our minds, every minute of the game,” Murphy said. “I hope he is going to pull through this, but it’s a serious injury."
Murphy has gotten to know Scalise. They've been playing baseball together for a while.
Hodgkinson had an assault rifle and a lot of ammunition and police said the shooting may have been motivated by Hodgkinson’s hatred for President Donald Trump and the GOP.
"I've gotten them, pretty much every member of Congress I know has gotten death threats," U.S. Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty said. "I've had armed police at my public meetings. That's not right."
The shooting has brought members Congress together in some way. Both parties said they were determined to play in Thursday night's baseball game.
"In some ways, it’s been the best and worst of times,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal said. “Worst because of this nightmarish shooting but the best because it's brought us together as adversity sometimes does."
Blumenthal and Esty, along with several of Connecticut's members of the House of Representatives, were in the stands. Esty is hoping some of the anger over politics calms down and said what we need is a willingness to come together.
The gates at National's Park opened at 5:30 p.m. The game started at 7 p.m. Extra security was at the Congressional Ballgame at Nationals Park and attendance was twice it normally is.
A few hours before Thursday night’s game, Murphy was on a hot street outside of his office. Murphy said he's proud to be the team’s catcher and wear his Hartford Yard Goats uniform. But, he admitted it will be a tough game.
"On balance I think it’s good we’re showing the resiliency that we are not letting this tragedy keep us down,” Murphy said. “But it does say something about us that we’re able to pop back up from shootings pretty regularly we've become normalized."
"That's why we came to show support," Virginia resident Chris Field said. "Yes, they sure are they probably should have more security given the environment we are in right now."
Scalise is from Louisiana. The players all wore Louisiana State University hats at the game.
"I think it needs to happen today," Carol Boulden, of Alexandria, Va. said. "We need the support of the country behind it, maybe the heated rhetoric on both sides will calm down and would make me happy."
Special agent David Bailey was injured in the attack on Wednesday. Many are saying without the Capitol police being there, this would have been a lot worse.
In the end, the Democrats won the game 11-2.
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