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GOP Congressman Scalise, 3 Others Shot in Virginia; Trump: Congressman's Shooter Now Dead from His Injuries; Congressman's Shooter Identified. Aired 11:30-12p ET
Aired June 14, 2017 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
REP. PAT MEEHAN (R), PENNSYLVANIA: He positioned himself in the visitors' dugout, which is across the field
MEEHAN: -- behind it, across the field from where the capitol police generally sit. And it's fortunate because Steve Scalise is a member of leadership. He has a security detail there, otherwise we would just be a bunch of guys out on a normal morning practicing. But I think the fact that we practice there every morning and it's a group of Congress people together, sometimes, Joe, as many as 25 people, maybe 30.
REP. JOE BARTON, (R), TEXAS: We had 22 members there today.
MEEHAN: You know, you may have -- someone was able to anticipate our being there and being vulnerable.
BARTON: Our prayers are for the people who were wounded and our thanks are to the police officers who -- including the Alexandria police who arrived very quickly, who attacked -- and I can't emphasize this- enough, they attacked the shooter and that saved our lives.
MEEHAN: And in doing so, they injured themselves. It was remarkable heroism. And
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Where were the capitol police when -- (INAUDIBLE)
BARTON: They were behind the first-base dugout where Congressman Meehan said they normally positioned themselves. They were not on the field. The shooter was not on the field and never got on the field. He stayed behind the third-base dugout and came around behind home plate, got behind a utility shed, and then darted out in front of the utility shed and that's when he got shot.
&: Did you see the shooter and the weapon?
BARTON: I did not until after the fact.
I was getting down, protecting, making sure my son was down, and I did not see him when it was an active shooting situation. MEEHAN: We just left Jeff Duncan, from South Carolina. Jeff
generally plays short stop or third base -- and Jeff was leaving with another member, Rhonda Santos, who would have all been positioned in the infield. As is customary, we all have responsibilities to get back to, so sometimes people will finish what they're doing and leave early. As Jeff was walking out, he actually saw the shooter, who spoke to him, and said who are those guys? He said, that's the congressional baseball team. And he said, what are they, Republicans or Democrats? He said they're the Republicans. And that was the conversation he had and it was only as they were driving back --
BARTON: He said he acted a little weird.
We need to go inside.
BARTON: Thank you.
&: How long did the firefight go on for?
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. You've been listening to Joe Barton, the manager of the Republican congressional baseball field. To put a fine point on it, he's, understandably, emotional after everything he went through this morning. But also, he had two of his sons with him on the field and we actually saw on some of the video earlier today them walking through the capitol with him. You can imagine the emotion for his entire family.
I do want to read this on the note coming from Deidre Walsh, from the majority leader's office, that all members are being encouraged to be on the House floor at noon today, and following a prayer and pledge, we will hear brief remarks from the speaker and the Democratic leader. And after that the House is going to adjourn for the day. We'll be keeping our eye on the House floor to hear remarks from House Speaker Paul Ryan and Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi.
Let's go back to the capitol where Brianna Keilar is with a member of Congress with her -- Brianna?
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOIUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Kate.
I am here with Congressman Jack Bergman. He represents the upper peninsula and other parts of Michigan. He is here with us now.
You were short stop and second base. You have actually changed after practice, but you were there when this happened. Tell us what happened?
REP. JACK BERGMAN, (R), MICHIGAN: Towards the end of practice, I was next to go into the batting cage to hit so I was standing around home plate and we heard a noise, and a couple of seconds later, the second noise made it pretty obvious that it was a shooter. A little Marine Corps background in my history. Didn't take too long --
KEILAR: Not just a little. Lieutenant general in the Marine Corps, but, yeah.
BERGMAN: Fair enough.
At that point, everybody started scrambling. I made a quick assessment that the shots came from behind the third-base dugout. And my best strategy would be to get low and go behind the first-base dugout. Everybody was scrambling at that point. So the good news is that the shooter could not get onto the field because the gates were locked behind the chain-link fence. As he was shooting, he began to move. We couldn't see him, at least from our vantage point. But he had a direct shot at third base, short stop and second base.
KEILAR: So you're hearing him but you're not seeing him?
BERGMAN: That's right. We're just hearing the shots and people yell "shooter," people start to scramble, just personal survival and directing others to survival, as well.
KEILAR: So then, what happens after that? Where did you ultimately -- were you able to run away from the field? We've heard some members of Congress did.
BERGMAN: We were all kind of on our own at that point. My first thought in getting behind the first-base dugout was if he was coming out from third base, he couldn't see me behind the first-base dugout. There were some members already down in the first-base dugout. Then he started to move down the third-base line towards home plate. Again, outside the fence. And I moved, along with others, behind the dugout into the dugout down in there, and that's when the police detail, Whip Scalise's police detail engaged him and took him down.
[11:35:04] KEILAR: You have followed an impressive career in the Marine Corps. By now being a freshman member of Congress, so this -- I don't know if this is your first year, but certainly you were relatively new to the men's baseball team. What are you thinking and how are you feeling as you consider this event that is something that brings members of Congress together, something that, quite frankly, a lot of Americans don't think you do.
BERGMAN: For the last few months, we've been meeting at 6:30 in the morning three days a week to practice. I've had a great opportunity to meet many of my colleague I haven't met before. So bonding, getting to know them. We always have political discussions, whether on the baseball field or not, talking about issues, but this is a great charity event coming up here tomorrow night, both Democrats and Republicans. This is a nonpartisan event that will raise $600,000- plus for needy kids in the greater metro area. We need to take the game forward tomorrow night and show the American public that we are people with a heart and people with a head.
KEILAR: We have heard other members. Congressman Rodney Davis say the game needs to go on tomorrow. We'll see if it does.
Stay with me for just a moment.
I do want to tell our viewers that we've gotten a warning that President Trump is going to be speaking. It's called the two-minute warning -- I don't mean a warning in the real sense of it. He's going to be speaking shortly.
We're going to continue talking to Congressman Bergman until we hear from the president.
What do you want to hear from the president? We know that he's spoken to the House speaker. We know that they've put out a statement. What are you hoping to hear?
BERGMAN: I'm hoping to hear, and I believe we will hear expressions of sympathy and hope and prayers for those who have been wounded.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As you all know, shortly after 7:00 a.m. this morning a gunman opened fire on members of Congress and their staffs as they were practicing for tomorrow's annual charity baseball game. Authorities are continuing to investigate the crime. And the assailant has now died from his injuries. The FBI is leading the investigation and will continue to provide updates as new information becomes available.
Congressman Steve Scalise, a member of House leadership, was shot and badly wounded and is now in stable condition at the hospital, along with two very courageous capitol police officers. At least two others were also wounded. Many lives would have been lost, if not for the heroic actions of the two capitol police officers who took down the gunman despite sustaining gunshot wounds during a very, very brutal assault.
Melania and I are grateful for their heroism and praying for the swift recovery of all victims.
Congressman Scalise is a friend and a very good friend. He's a patriot and he's a fighter. He will recover from this assault.
And, Steve, I want you to know that you have the prayers not only of the entire city behind you, but of an entire nation and, frankly, the entire world. America is praying for you and America is praying for all of the victims of this terrible shooting.
I spoke with Steve's wife, Jennifer, and I pledged to her our full and absolute support. Anything she needs. We are with her and with the entire Scalise family.
I have also spoken with Chief Matthew Verderosa -- he's doing a fabulous job -- of the capitol police, to express our sympathies for his wounded officers and to express my admiration for their courage. Our brave capitol police perform a challenging job with incredible skill and their sacrifice makes democracy possible.
We also commend the brave first responders from Alexandria Police Fire and Rescue who rushed to the scene. Everyone on that field is a public servant. Our courageous police, our congressional aides, who work so tirelessly behind the scenes with enormous devotion, and our dedicated members of Congress, who represent our people.
[11:40:06] We may have our differences, but we do well in times like these to remember that everyone who serves in our nation's capitol is here because, above all, they love our country. We can all agree that we are blessed to be Americans, that our children deserve to grow up in a nation of safety and peace, and we are strongest when we are unified and when we work together for the common good.
Please take a moment today to cherish those you love. And always remember those who serve and keep us safe.
God bless them all. God bless you, and God bless America. Thank you.
KEILAR: All right. President Trump making remarks there at the White House.
And I am here with Congressman Jack Bergman, of Michigan, who was at the practice when this shooting happened.
Following the shooting of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, there was a lot of soul-searching about what this would mean for security for members. You just heard President Trump there talking about, of course, there are differences between Democrats and Republicans, but this is something that is going to unify people as they respond to this. What are your concerns moving forward and what would you like to see Congress do?
BERGMAN: Well, my concern moving forward, if there was one, was that maybe somebody still has yet to read the mail, that we have new security challenges in this country. I was a Northwest airlines pilot for 25 years. Our world changed on 9/11 in how we did our business because we recognized the new security threat that was going to try to take down our airplanes. So what I heard from the president a minute ago was, number one, prayers for the families, praise for the capitol police, and the sincere belief knowing that those who serve, serve because we love this country.
KEILAR: Congressman Bergman, thank you so much for talking to us and we appreciate you being with us today. Our prayers with your teammates and also with all of you. A lot of you are shaken, I know. This is no small thing to go through. We certainly appreciate it.
BERGMAN: Thank you.
KEILAR: I want to go back to you, Kate.
BOLDUAN: Thanks, Brianna. We thank the Congressman, as well.
We just heard from President Trump who delivered the news that the assailant, according to him, the shooter has died from his injuries. Also giving an update that Steve Scalise, the member of Congress, the majority whip, who was shot, that he is in stable condition at this very moment.
I want to go back to Washington. Shimon Prokupecz has been working more information about the shooter who we now, according to the president, has died from his injuries.
Shimon, what more do you have?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN JUSTICE & CRIME PRODUCER: Some more information on the suspect. As soon as law enforcement and police and the FBI was able to identify him, they began scrubbing through his social media, looking through anything online they can find. And what, so far, they have learned that there appears to be, they have found anti-Trump postings. This could go obviously to the motive of the shooting and it's something that the FBI, which is now leading this investigation, is going to be looking at. They're going to talk to his family and friends, and trying to learn how he came to this area. How he -- did he drive to Alexandria? They believe that he did. There was a van that they located. And they also want to know more about what he was thinking in the days leading to the shooting. So his family and friends are going to play a big part in this. And more of a social media dive, and also look in other postings online about this anti- Trump rhetoric that they have so far found, and perhaps a motive in this.
And it's important to understand that the FBI has taken over this investigation because you have basically a federal official, a congressman being shot, and so the FBI is now leading this investigation. And they're definitely going to head out to Illinois to talk to his family there and see if there are other people here in this area who may have been talking to him in the days leading up to the shooting.
BOLDUAN: Shimon, thank you so much.
We are showing what law enforcement have released, the first pictures we're seeing of the suspect, the shooter, that president said he has died from the injuries sustained in a gun fight with capitol police in Alexandria and law enforcement officials on the scene.
Shimon, we'll get back to you. Thanks very much.
We have new tape in that I want to play for you, of Congressman Duncan, a member of Congress, who was at this practice this morning. He left early, and all reports are that he actually had some kind of conversation with whom they now believe is that gunman.
Let's listen in to what Congressman Duncan has to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[11:45:05] REP. JEFF DUNCAN, (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: So I was there at baseball practice this morning. I actually left right before shooting happened and had an interaction with, who I believe, was the shooter based on the profile that I saw on TV. I've given a statement to the Alexandria Police Department this morning after I heard about the shooting, and they asked me to come down there because I did have an interaction with someone in the parking lot who asked me if the team practicing was a Democrat or Republican team. I told him they were Republicans. He said, OK, thanks. Turned around, I got in the car and left, to found out that my Republican colleagues were targeted by an active shooter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: That is some pretty startling information. Jeff Duncan saying he believes he had that conversation with, who he believes, is the gunman from all of the pictures that he's now seen out there. And the question coming from the gunman, that person that he encountered, was, the people practicing here, are they Democrats or Republicans, and he informed him they were Republicans. And then Duncan left because he was leaving early from practice.
I want to go to CNN's Brian Todd. I believe he is outside the hospital where Congressman Steve Scalise has been in treatment.
Brian, correct me if I'm wrong about that, but go ahead, please.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Kate. He was Medevac'd here by helicopter a short time ago. Congressman Steve Scalise is undergoing surgery right now. His staff says he is in stable condition. Hospital officials told us a short time ago there is also a second victim, another victim from the shooting being treated here, and a total of two patients being treated here at Med Star Hospital. And Steve Scalise helicoptered here. And the helicopter pad is not far from here. You can see to my right, your left, a lot of police vehicles that were brought here a short time ago. This place very well known for its ability to handle trauma cases and emergency surgeries. And we got an indication from Congressman Scalise's staff that he was in good spirits before he went into surgery and was able to talk to his wife on the phone before he went to surgery. We hope to get an update shortly on Congressman Scalise's condition.
We are told that the shooter, James Hodgkinson, was not treated here. As you heard a short time ago, President Trump saying that he has died. He was treated at George Washington University Hospital, not too far from here.
Again, the accounts of what happened on the field and what may have led to the sparing of some lives here, and it was really, according to many witnesses, the actions of the U.S. capitol police who were with Congressman Scalise at the time, who, according to Congressman Mo Brooks and others who were there, they said that the Capitol Hill police helped to take down the shooter, that if it wasn't for them, a lot more people would have been hurt and possibly killed. Very riveting and stirring accounts of what the Capitol Hill police did. And we hope to get the identity of the other person being treated here for you very shortly -- Kate?
BOLDUAN: Brian, thank you very much. We appreciate it.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Steve Scalise and his family today as he is in stable condition and recovering from his injuries.
We have learned a lot in the past couple of minutes. Let me bring you in to have a discussion, digest a little bit of this, James Gagliano, who is a retired FBI special agent. Also with me here is Jonathan Wackrow, former Secret Service agent. Gentlemen, I wish we were talking about something else.
Thank you. You've both been kind in sitting with me throughout the hour with breaking news.
And we now have the identity of the man that law enforcement has I.D.'ed as the gunman. President Trump said that he has died. A couple of things that raised both of your ears when listening to this is these anti-Trump social media postings that law enforcement are tracking right now, what do you read into that? Just give me your initial, gut reaction in all of these elements that are at play right now, Jonathan?
JONATHAN WACKROW, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Posting on social media, his intent is out there in the public domain. So there could be a political motive behind this attack that, you know, someone may have been able to key in on prior to, you know. That'll come out later on.
BOLDUAN: So would you assume that he's known to law enforcement then?
WACKROW: I haven't seen the social media postings, but if he has a lot of rhetoric that's out there that is anti-Trump and potentially could incite violence, that should be an indicator to law enforcement as the intent of this attack.
BOLDUAN: Law enforcement on the scene and the FBI were very careful as, understandably, they would be early on in the investigation, is it deliberate? Were they targeted? It's too early to tell. Let's just say that's the stand of law enforcement right now.
But, James, as you're looking at this and you hear what we just heard from Congressman Duncan, the man he believes was the gunman, and this is the statement he gave to police, is that he was asked -- that he asked him are these Democrats or Republicans practicing? He said Republicans. What does that say to you?
JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: It's absolutely an investigative clue, but it's a piece of it, and I think the tone, thus far, that was exhibited by the special agent in charge of the Washington field office was correct, you have to look at this from a bunch of different angles. For the FBI to have investigative purview, Kate, three things have to happen. The first, which we always have to look at in these situations, is terrorism. Violence or intimidation, pursuit of political aims. That's a possibility. We assume that until we can rule it out.
[11:50:15] BOLDUAN: Does your gut tell you anything right now, or do you need to be careful right now?
GAGLIANO: I think you do. By the same token, make sure you don't get so hyper-focused on one angle. Could it be a political assassination attempt? Absolutely. Thirdly, could it be a random mentally disturbed person targeting civilians?
And the other component to this is the FBI also takes purview because two officers were shot, capitol police officers. An assault on a federal officer is a federal violation.
Absent of the actual identification of the motive of this, I think that discussing some of the positives that occurred. When we talk about this, and it came up during some of the interviews, the composure of members of Congress during this crisis situation. This is a great, you know, example that a crisis situation can happen at any moment at any time. And some --
BOLDUAN: We're hearing the same reaction you hear from everyone when something happens. I couldn't believe that it was a gunshot when I first heard it.
WACKROW: Look at the way members of Congress acted. They ran away from the threat. When they couldn't run away from the threat, they hid from the threat. After the incident, they were able to provide immediate medical care to the people, putting tourniquets on. This is a really great use-case that at least Washington, D.C., the members of Congress, have created this culture of security awareness that, in the face of tragedy, in the face of a crisis, they were able to rise up and overcome. Not to -- and not to dismiss the heroic actions of the two capitol police officers, to go with pistols and engage a threat, which was a high rate of fire from a semi-automatic weapon, is very heroic. They mitigated a potentially tragic situation here.
BOLDUAN: I want to add to the conversation right now, gentlemen, add to the conversation, I want to bring in Harry Houck. He is a retired New York City police detective, joining me now.
Harry, how members of Congress -- there has been a lot of consistency with members of Congress who were there, how they described how things played out had morning, just as there's been a lot has happened in the last hour. This is how Jeff Flake described how things played out this morning. He says, "We were doing batting practice. Scalise was on second base, fielding balls. The gunman showed up by the third- base dugout with a clear view of the field. Officers -- he begins shooting. Capitol police engage him. Officers arrive on the scene."
How does this all play out? What happens? What is the protocol as you're arriving on the scene as a first responder? You see these police officers are engaging someone. What do you do?
HARRY HOUCK, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, what you have to do is find out where the shooter is and then engage him. Everything goes out the window as far as protecting the people that are on the field. You know, police officers can't do that immediately. They've got to engage that shooter and stop the shooter correctly and quickly right away to eliminate that threat.
Now, what I'm not hearing here regarding what happened here today is that I think the FBI and other law enforcement at this time need to find out whether or not this man is part of a larger conspiracy or not. That's very important here. I don't think he is. But I think the FBI is basically going to focus on that. We have a man here who drove 825 miles -- I checked with google -- 825 miles to commit this act today.
BOLDUAN: He came straight from Illinois. Right, right.
HOUCK: If he came straight from Illinois, what set this guy off today, or 825 miles ago? You know, we had the Sessions hearings yesterday. Maybe he watched those and got upset. Listen, the fact that somebody asked somebody on the street whether or not they were Republicans or Democrats, and that person had a weapon, there's only one thing in mind at that time. And that specifically tells me, all right, this is a politically motivated attack.
BOLDUAN: All right.
Harry, sorry. I was getting more information in my ear.
Harry, James, Jonathan, please hang on with me for one second.
I'm getting someone on the phone, Charles Halloran. He's a former congressional staffer. He was on the scene of the shooting.
Charles, can you hear me?
CHARLES HALLORAN, WITNESS & FORMER CONGRESSIONAL STAFFER (voice-over): Yes.
BOLDUAN: Thank you so much for hopping on the phone.
Tell me what you saw. What did you hear?
HALLORAN: I actually arrived about 10 minutes after they had taken the shooter down. I came in the backdoor of the YMCA because the front door had been blocked off. None of us really walking around knew what was going on unless you heard the gunshots, which I did not. We thought there was a fire. There was a massive response by ambulances and local P.D.
But I agree with everybody else. Everyone else on the scene said, had it not been for Scalise's detail, this would have been a much bigger problem and a lot of carnage.
Two shots actually hit the YMCA. I sent the pictures over to your network this morning. One pierced the glass and another window and actually went into the pool area. Another was hit and stopped at the front window. But people could have been killed in the YMCA.
At the time, we had no idea that it was this level of significance. We thought it was one person taking random shots. We had no idea what was going on.
[11:55:37] BOLDUAN: And, Charles, we are showing folks the pictures that you sent in of what is obviously bullet holes in places in the YMCA.
Give me some perspective. How far away is the YMCA and where you took these pictures from the field? HALLORAN: They're contiguous. It's the YMCA's field about 75 feet
from the front door. That is where the man was holding up and taking the shots right at the dugout.
BOLDUAN: And just a final thought how this played out this morning in your neighborhood?
HALLORAN: Well, it was -- it was shocking. And this is a very quiet, small town-type neighborhood. And everyone is -- everyone is shocked.
BOLDUAN: Charles Halloran, thank you so much for jumping on the phone. I appreciate it.
Jonathan, James, running out of time. Do you think in light of this, the security posture for members of Congress, writ large, should change?
WACKROW: In the immediate aftermath, yes, it has to. This is about preservation of U.S. government employees. You know, our legislators are, you know, one-third of our government. We have to. This is essential.
BOLDUAN: How do you do it, though?
WACKROW: 535 members of Congress?
WACKROW: There's a way to do it. There's a methodology to do it. Listen, there's obviously a threat out there, whether it's an ideological threat that is attacking, at least we see the Republicans today. You know, what has to happen is intelligence will drive the protective methodology around all of these members of Congress. In the immediate aftermath, absolutely.
BOLDUAN: Can I have your final thought on, what is your big question right now? Where is the FBI focused?
GAGLIANO: I think the FBI is focused on the background of this gentleman to find out whether or not there's a larger conspiracy. Again, in crisis resolution situations, we need to stop the killing and the plot first and then go back and piece together the prosecution.
I'm struck by one thing in this new normal. Whether it's an ISIS- inspired terrorist, a potential political assassination, a disgruntled employee, or a person who is mentally unstable, the fact that the folks, the original folks that called in on the 911 calls, use these operative terms heartened me. They didn't say "crazy gunman shooting at people." It was, "we have an active shooter." People in the public, through this, through us talking about it, are becoming more informed. That helps our job in law enforcement.
BOLDUAN: Getting used to it.
Thank you, gentlemen, very much for being here with me. So many questions.
Our continuing special coverage of this breaking news, the tragedy playing out near our nation's capital this morning, continues with John King right now.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Welcome to this special edition of "Inside Politics." I'm John King reporting this afternoon from a very somber, very shaken United States capitol.
As we speak, the third-ranking member of the House of Representatives in stable condition with a gunshot wound to the hip. Louisiana Congressman Steve Scalise, he is the Republican majority whip, one of five people shot at an early morning baseball practice just across the Potomac River in Alexandria Virginia. A lobbyist, congressional aid and two other members of the capitol police where is also shot before police took down the attacker, who had opened fire from behind one of the dugouts with a rifle. All of the victims are expected to survive. We're keeping track of the victims' condition.
The gunman, according to President Trump, who spoke just moments ago, is dead. He's identified as James T. Hodgkinson, 66 years old, from Belleville, Illinois.
The House just about to come to order. We expect to hear any moment now from the House Speaker Paul Ryan and from the Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi. We'll bring you their comments live as soon as it happens.
In the meantime, let's listen a bit more from the president just moments ago at the White House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Congressman Scalise is a friend, and a very good friend. He's a patriot and he's a fighter. He will recover from this assault.
And Steve, I want you to know that you have the prayers, not only of the entire city behind you, but of an entire nation and, frankly, the entire world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: That's the president at the White House just a short time ago.
Scalise's' office says the lawmaker is undergoing surgery and, quote, "He's grateful for the brave actions of U.S. capitol police, first responders and colleagues."
That sentiment, that grateful attitude toward the first responders shared by the congressman's colleagues, those who were with him on the baseball field this morning, and others in the House and the Senate, across Washington and, of course, back home in the congressman's district in Louisiana.
Listen here to Senator Rand Paul, from Kentucky, among those who was at the baseball field this morning.