Return to Transcripts main page
Police Release Shooting Suspect's Name; Virginia Shooting Investigation; Victims Treated at Area Hospitals; House of Representatives Opens for Session. Aired 12-12:30p ET
Aired June 14, 2017 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[12:00:00] JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: First responders shared by the congressman's colleagues, those who were with him on that 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 of Kentucky among those who was at the baseball field this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY (voice-over): Our lives were saved by the Capitol Police. Had they not been there, I think it would have been a massacre. And you are completely helpless. And, you know, having no self-defense and no way to get to somebody, the field was basically a killing field. I mean, if you were to run out there while the shooter was still shooting, he would have shot anybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: The FBI taking the lead in this investigation because a member of Congress was among those shot. The FBI says it's too early to know whether this was an act of terror or whether the lawmakers were targeted for assassination.
Alabama Congressman Mo Brooks was there and actually used his belt as a tourniquet to help that wounded lobbyist. He's given us some of the most riveting accounts of this morning's horror.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MO BROOKS (R), ALABAMA: Well, I was on the third base side of home plate getting ready to have batting practice and the first shots were pretty much past the third base dugout, maybe 10 or 15 feet, hard to ascertain for sure. I'm looking at it from an angle. And I hear the big blam (ph) and I thought it was a car backfiring at first until I see the rifle barrel and a white male taking careful aim at congressmen, staffers, whoever he could get ahold of.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: I spoke just moments ago with another Republican congressman who was at the field who was leaving just before the shooting who says he is certain he saw the shooter. He said the shooter approached the car and asked weathered those were Democrats or Republican out there on the field practicing. We'll bring you that interview with Congressman Ron DeSantis in just a moment.
I want to begin our coverage, though, with CNN producer Shimon Prokupecz with new details on this gunman. Barbara Starr's at the scene as well.
Shimon, tell us the new details we know about this gunman.
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE PRODUCER: Well, we know his name. We've learned that his name is James Hodgkinson. He's from Belleville, Illinois. He's 66 years old. Police were able to learn his name fairly quickly. They believe they found a van or some - or maybe another type of vehicle on the scene believed to belong to him. And from that, they were able to trace his identity. And since then, they've learned quite a bit about him, including an extensive social media presence, some anti-Trump postings. He was also pretty well- known in Illinois, in Belleville, where he was part of some anti-GOP groups, we're told.
And, John, just two days ago, according to a law enforcement official I've spoken to, said that Hodgkinson had posted an angry either tweet or something on FaceBook about Donald Trump.
So all of this now obviously part of the investigation. It may go to intent. It may go to motive. Clearly with the FBI now leading this investigation, they believe that may play a role in this. And so now, you know, their process is to go through a timeline trying to find out where he's been the last few days, where the alleged shooter has been in the last few days, who he was talking to, looking for more social media postings. It's not entirely clear if he was on anyone's radar before this. But you know, just a general scrub of his social media, you can see some of his views, some of his - what one law enforcement official said anti-Trump views. And that now is playing a large role in this investigation.
KING: And as they try to piece that together, Shimon, do we know anything as yet confirmed? You hear a lot of first reports often not true in situations like this about the type of rifle that was used and any idea, you say, as they try to trace this back together about how long he's been in the area? Do we know that yet?
PROKUPECZ: No. So, you know, I just spoke to a law enforcement official who said that this is something they're still trying to determine. There are some media reports that his wife claims he had moved to Alexandria recently or had been there in the last two months. We have not been able to confirm that. And law enforcement is still trying to confirm that, as well.
And that's part of what they're doing now to trace his moves, to see where he's been, to see who he's been talking to. You know, also, where did he get the weapons from? That is all part of it. You know, we've been told it is some sort of long gun. As to what kind, we've heard different descriptions of it. So that still also has not been confirmed, John. KING: Shimon, appreciate that. Continue your reporting. We'll come
back to you as soon as new information comes to us.
Let's go straight to the scene now. CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr has been there since very early this morning.
Barbara, tell us the latest.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: John, we are about two blocks just over my shoulder from the baseball field. Some of the police presence winding down a bit here now. But the investigation in full swing. They are continuing to gather evidence, interview witnesses. We've had two briefings this morning here on site from law enforcement. They are making very clear they have a long way to go on this. They want to learn everything they can about how the incident unfolded, the motivation of the gunman.
[12:04:57] The FBI now in charge, of course, because this is an attack on the U.S. Congress. This is a federal crime, of course. Some indication of security being ramped up in areas at federal sites across Washington even though the inclination may be at the moment that this is a lone gunman, that there is not a broader plot. The FBI agent in charge making very clear they were not ready to rule anything out, that it is very early on, that they are investigating all avenues, lone shooter, terrorism, all of it. They're not closing off any avenue of investigation at this point as they continue to gather evidence.
It was at 7:09 this morning the Alexandria Police chief tells us that the first 911 call came in from the baseball field. Alexandria Police say they were able to respond in three minutes, able to back up the Capitol Hill security detail that was already at the baseball site. Five people transported to hospitals here.
I just want to emphasize for people who may be watching, this is really a lovely, quiet neighborhood in suburban Washington. We're about five, ten minutes south of the Pentagon in Virginia, across the Potomac River. About 20 or 30 minutes perhaps south of Capitol Hill. This is a neighborhood where people at 7:00 in the morning are out walking their dogs, getting the kids ready for school. It is known that they practice here, that they practice for the baseball game here. And people, neighborhood people, were telling us, you know, sometimes they come out and watch in the early morning. And it's a very friendly neighborhood.
I don't live very far from here. I can tell you, I've already run into friends who live here this morning. Very much a neighborhood, very much a place where people generally have lived her for many years. And all of that, John, really adding to the shock this morning about what happened on these streets.
KING: Barbara Starr at the scene for us, great perspective. And also important to note, so many good Samaritans from that great neighborhood helping out in the response this morning as people scattered from the field, offering them shelter and the like.
Barbara, thank you. We'll come back to you as developments warrant as well.
Let's get to CNN's Brian Todd right now. He is at the hospital where victims are being treated.
Brian, what can you tell us?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, I can tell you, a short time ago, hospital officials confirmed that there are two victims from the shooting being treated here at Medstar Washington Hospital Center. One of them is Congressman Steve Scalise, the majority whip. He was medevacked here on a helicopter, landing on a helipad to my left just a short time ago. He is currently in surgery. His staff says he is in stable condition.
A second person, a second victim from the shooting, is being treated here, as well. Hospital officials not releasing that person's name or their condition at this time. We hope to get an update for you on that very soon.
This hospital, of course, known for treating trauma cases, emergency surgeries, shooting incidents. Victims come here all the time from those shooting incidents. Thy have a helipad here. It's easily accessible by medevac. So that was the choice in this case.
The congressman's staff said that he is - he was in good spirits here before he went into surgery and that he was able to talk to his wife on the phone. Interestingly enough, Senator Jeff Flake, Republican from Arizona, who was at the baseball field when the shooting occurred and gave some very vivid, graphic accounts of what he saw, he said he was able to grab Congressman Scalise's cell phone as they were transporting him off the field and call Scalise's wife to tell her what had happened so that she wouldn't necessarily have to hear it on the news.
And as you've been hearing all morning, some very riveting accounts from members of Congress and others who were eat that ball field with Congressman Scalise. They said that he was lying motionless on the field after he was hit in the hip and that, you know, it took some time to get him off, but that they were able to get him off there.
And also that if it wasn't for the presence of the two U.S. Capitol Police officers who were at the scene, that this could have been much, much worse. They're saying that these two officers engaged the shooter and helped take him down and saved lives in the process, John. So a lot of gratitude being handed out to those two officers who were on the scene. Not clear if one of them is the second person being treated here or not. We'll hope to get that information for you soon.
KING: Brian Todd at Medstar. Brian, thanks for that information. We'll keep in touch.
As Brian noted, Steve Scalise, he's a feisty Republican conservative member of Congress, very colorful, very funny, very entertaining guy when you talk to him. He's the second baseman for the Republican team. I talked moments ago with another infielder, Ron DeSantis and Jeff Duncan, the short stop and the third baseman. They left the field a few minutes before the shooting. Out in the parking lot, Congressman DeSantis says they were approached by a man he is now certain was the shooter. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING: And, sir, you're in your suit now, but you were at practice this morning and you believe now, based on what we now know, that you actually heard the shooter, saw the shooter right before this happened.
REP. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: Right. So I was actually at third base. Jeff Duncan, from South Carolina, short. Steve Scalise, who obviously got shot, at second base, was at second taking ground balls. Jeff and I looked at each other and said, hey, we've taken a lot of ground balls, we've hit, let's beat the traffic back to The Hill. So we left practice a little early, got in Jeff's - one of his aide's cars. I was in the back seat.
[12:10:10] A gentleman walked up to us and wanted to know whether there were Republicans or Democrats practicing out there. Congressman Duncan said that it was Republicans. And then he immediately turned around and went towards the field.
It was a little weird because, you know, no one's really out there at that time. But we just kind drove back. Once we got to The Hill, we got word that there was a shooting. Immediately Jeff and I looked at each other and we said, we've got to report this individual. So we reported him, you know, with the best description we could get. Since he's been identified, the picture on the individual's Twitter page matches the individual who approached our vehicle probably about ten minutes before the shooting started.
KING: And you have no doubt about that?
DESANTIS: I'm very sure. I mean like it would - it's the type of thing where I probably saw him for ten seconds. So having seen someone for ten seconds, I think I'm as sure as I could be.
KING: But you communicated with Congressman Duncan, who shares your view, that it was the same individual?
DESANTIS: Jeff thinks it's him too, yes.
KING: And, I want to go back to - as, obviously, there will be a lot of conversation now about potential political motivation. So can you think exactly what you heard him say? Was it just a simple question, are those Republicans or Democrats? Did it have any bias to it?
DESANTIS: It had, I think, a little bias. Not enough that I thought he was going to go commit acts of violence.
KING: Right. DESANTIS: But it was just - it was a little abrasive. I kind of thought to myself, I was like, you know, that's strange, but it was strange enough that as soon as the news hit, Jeff and I both had the same thought.
KING: And you were in the back seat of a car at the time.
DESANTIS: I was in the back seat of the car.
KING: So do you remember or could you see whether - at that moment, was he carrying anything? Was he carrying a bag with a rifle or anything?
DESANTIS: So I saw him - I saw him from chest up, because I was in the back seat. So I did not see that. I couldn't see below his chest. So I can't say that he did or didn't have that.
KING: Right. Obviously, Whip Scalise had his security detail there because of his position in the leadership. Hindsight is always 20/20 and often overly judgmental. Do you think, as you deal with the emotions of this day, was that enough security there? Should members of Congress be out in a public setting like that? It's a crazy question to ask. Anybody should be able to go and practice baseball, but -
DESANTIS: But here's the thing. I mean today Paul Ryan told Steve this morning, I need you. We've got a - we've got a meeting at 7:00. I've got something. There would have been no security out there. I mean the only reason there was security is because Steve rates it as a member of the leadership. They usually stage behind the first base dugout. They have the SUV. They usually will stand outside the vehicle. You know they're armed and you know they're security. This guy, the shooter, was obviously on the other side of the diamond.
But had Steve not been there, I think you would have seen many more injured and probably many killed. I think it would have been a really gruesome day. So having the Capitol Police there really saved lives today. I think there's no question about that.
KING: All right, take me back into the parking lot. I want you to describe again just in every last detail that you can recall the gentleman who asked that question.
DESANTIS: So I got into the car first. So I'm in the back seat. Jeff Duncan's walking up into the front passenger seat. His aide is driving the car. And as Jeff's getting in, there's an individual that's kind of approaching our general direction. I wasn't sure he was approaching our car. Then did he come to the car and then asked the question, are those Republicans or Democrats out there? Not really a friendly guy, not nice. Jeff said they were Republicans. And then he immediately kind of clicked and he turned around.
And again, I didn't think - I thought it was a little weird, but not at the weirdness level where this guy's a security risk. But, he - in the picture, it does - it matches the type of guy. I thought it was probably late 50s, early 60s. I think they reported he's 66. So that probably fits pretty good.
BLITZER: What did he look like?
DESANTIS: He - you know, he was like, you know, late 50s, early 60s. I mean he had kind of like darker hair with maybe some gray in it. I think he had some facial hair, as well. And he just - he was dressed kind of - not nicely dressed at all, but not like he was wearing rags. Just the kind of - the type of guy that if you were talking down the street there with 30 other people, you probably wouldn't pick him out and think anything of him.
KING: And that's all he said? He asked one question and then turned and walked away?
DESANTIS: That's right.
KING: All right, how dos it - how did it feel to get back and realize you walked off this field, what, five, ten minutes before this happened?
DESANTIS: I don't think it's still hit me. I mean when I get out - so we went to the gym to shower. And I see on the screen on the TV, "Representative Scalise shot," and I'm thinking to myself, we left five, ten minutes before this. I was - it was just so crazy. And, obviously, the initial thing is, you know, I hope Steve is OK.
And Steve, incidentally, I mean, he loves this baseball game. I mean we've raised 650,000. Steve, he's always wearing a nice uniform. You know, I hadn't been playing lately because I've been banged up and he always said, Ron, we need you out there. So I play - I'm playing this year. Every time on the House floor, he'll be like, man, you're playing. Like, that's awesome. Like, he really - so, I don't know if they're going to play the game tomorrow night. I mean I'll be there if they do. But it will be - if they do play it, I think it will be sad that Steve's not there just given how much it meant to him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: And we learned just moments ago, Congresswoman Martha McSally telling Republican colleagues they will play that game, that charity baseball game, tomorrow night at Nationals Park.
The house floor now is beginning. Let's take you there live.
[12:15:01] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let us pray.
Almighty God, on a day when violence has come to this assembly, we ask your blessing on our brother, Representative Steve Scalise, the two officers and the staffer who have been shot. Bless the hands of those who tend to their injuries.
We, as Americans, are blessed by a free and open society with rights secured by law and the Constitution. But, once again, we are reminded that there is a vulnerability that comes with that openness. May we all be vigilant in being good citizens, neighbors, and defenders of our way of life at a time when so many challenges to our way of life and government seem under siege.
We thank you for the men and women who respond to the crises that befall us, especially the Capitol Police and all first responders. May their heroism and generosity of spirit be an inspiration to us all and may they be assured of our appreciation of their service.
And in this great silence as we are gathered most dramatically as this assembly, the people's house, may Republicans and Democrats be mindful of the rare companionship they share, men and women who have taken very public responsibility for our country, that carries so many burdens. And today the reminder, shared danger. May this day be characterized by kindness, good will, and compassion one to another.
God bless America. And may all that is done this day be for your greater honor and glory, amen.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: The chair has examined the journal of the last day's proceedings and announces to the House its approval thereof. Pursuant to Clause One of Rule One, the journal stands approved.
The chair will lead the House in the Pledge of Allegiance and invites the members of the gallery to join.
CROWD: I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For purposes, the gentleman from Wisconsin seek recognition.
RYAN: I ask to advise and extend my remarks and address the House for one minute.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The gentleman is recognized.
RYAN: My colleagues, there are very strong emotions throughout this House today. We are all horrified by this dreadful attack on our friends and on our colleagues and those who serve and protect this Capitol. We are all praying for those who were attacked and for their families.
Steve Scalise, Zachary Barth, Matt Mika, Special Agent David Bailey, Special Agent Krystal Griner. We are all giving our thoughts to those currently being treated for their injuries at this moment. And we are united. We are united in our shock, we are united in our anguish. An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.
[12:20:08] I know we want to give our thanks to the first responders and to the Alexandria Police Department who were on the scene in minutes. And I know this house wants to state unequivocally that we are as ever awed by the tremendous bravery of the Capitol Police.
I spoke with Special Agent Bailey and Special Agent Griner this morning. One was being treated and one was about to go into surgery. I expressed our profound gratitude to them. It is clear to me, based on various eyewitness accounts, that without these two heroes, Agent Bailey and Agent Griner, many lives would have been lost.
I know that we all want to learn as much as we can about what happened. We just all received a briefing from the sergeant of arms. I have complete confidence in the investigation that's being conducted by the Capitol Police, the FBI, who are also working with local law enforcement. I know we want to extend our gratitude for the outpouring of support that we've received from throughout the capital and from throughout the country.
And now, knowing Steve Scalise as we all do, he is likely really frustrated that he's not going to be able to play in the baseball game. I also know that Steve wants all of us to commend the bravery of those who came to the aid of the wounded. In the coming days, we will hear their stories and we will have the chance to hold up their heroism.
My colleagues, there are so many memories from this day that we will want to forget. And there are so many images that we will not want to see again. But there is one image in particular that this House should keep, and that is a photo I saw this morning of our Democratic colleagues gathered in prayer this morning after hearing the news.
You know, every day we come here to test and to challenge each other. We feel so deeply about the things that we fight for and the things that we believe in. At times, our emotions can clearly get the best of us. We're all imperfect. But we do not shed our humanity when we enter this chamber. For all the noise and all the fury, we are one family.
These were our brothers and sisters in the line of fire. These were our brothers and sisters who ran into danger and saved countless lives. So before this House returns to its business, let's just slow down and reflect to think about how we're all being tested right now, because we are being tested right now.
I ask each of you to join me to resolve to come together, to lift each other up, and to show the country, to show the world that we are one House, the people's house, united in our humanity. It is that humanity which will win the day and it always will.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For what purposes does the gentle lady from California seek recognition?
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), MINORITY LEADER: Mr. Speaker, I rise to join the distinguished speaker in paying tribute to the brave men and women of the Capitol Police force and also in sadness for the assault that was made on our colleagues and members of this staff.
To my colleagues, you're going to hear me say something you've never heard me say before. I identify myself with the remarks of the speaker. They were beautiful remarks, Mr. Speaker. Thank you so much for the sentiments that they represent. Thank you so much.
[12:25:18] Again, we are not one caucus or the other in this House today, but that we speak for each other in saying that we send our thoughts and prayers to our colleague, Steve Scalise. Personally, we have our Italian-American connection, so as soon as I heard his name, I was filled with concern, as I would be for anyone here, but we have that special connection. So our hopes and prayers. And I said to the speaker, I'll be asking you every five minutes, how is Steve coming along. And also to - for Zack Barth in Congressman Roger Williams' office, Matt Mika, who was a former staffer, and, of course, as the speaker acknowledged, Krystal Griner and David Bailey. And acknowledging their sacrifice and the - how fortunate we all were that they were on the scene because other lives would have probably been lost, I want us to remember that every single day the Capitol Police protects all of us, takes risks for us. And while a day like this is a time where we can focus on it, so sadly, it doesn't mean that other days aren't as challenging.
And I especially want to call attention to Detective John Gibson and Officer Jacob Chestnut, who almost 19 years ago, 1988 it was in July, lost their lives protecting the Congress, the Capitol. Not just the members of Congress, the staff, the press, and our visitors, people who come to see this Capitol, this great edifice to democracy known throughout the world. So they are protecting a great deal. And it is an attraction, and that makes it all the more risky.
You may not know this, my colleagues, but every time I pray, which is very frequently and certainly every Sunday, I pray for all of you. All of you together. In the earlier years, I used to pray for your happiness, for the fact that we would working together, heed the words of President Kennedy in the closing of his inaugural address when he said, may God's - God's work must truly be our own. How do we view what God's will is for us? How do we come together to give confidence to the American people? That as our founders intended we would have our disagreements and we would debate them and we would have confidence in our beliefs and humility to listen to others.
But in more recent years, I have been praying not only for that, but for our safety, because I, above anyone in here, and I can say that quite clearly, have been probably the target of more - a lot of the - political target and therefore the target of more threats than anyone, perhaps other than the president of the United States, Barack Obama. And so I prayed for Barack Obama. And now I continue to pray for him and I pray for Donald Trump, that his presidency will be successful and that his family will be safe.
Because it is about family. We are called for a purpose to this body. It's a great thing. And we know what it means to each of us to serve and we recognize that in others. And we also recognize that you have your constituents, we have ours, and we respect you and your constituents who sent you here. All worthy of respect.
But we do have our differences. And so I pray, my prayer is that we can resolve our differences in a way that furthers the preamble to the Constitution, takes us closer to e pluribus unum. And today, again, it was - it's again, it's in the family. It's an injury in the family for the staff and for our colleague and for his leadership.
[12:29:40] As I mentioned just a minute ago in the (INAUDIBLE), sports are a wonderful thing in our country. Probably one of the most unified - I think the arts, we like the same music and plays or whatever. But sports really bring us together in our cities. You see people have the biggest differences of opinion in - on politics, and yet when their team is on the field, people come together. People come together. So when this team was on the field practicing in such a - with such comradery and such brotherhood.