A Brief History
On June 14, 2017, in Alexandria, Virginia, a man belonging to a Facebook group called “Terminate the Republican Party” opened fire on several Republican members of Congress and their staffers, who were practicing for the annual Congressional Baseball Game for Charity, scheduled for the next day. Amidst this appalling act of violence, several heroes acted to prevent a bad situation from being potentially far worse. This article honors those heroes!
The practice game had been underway for about half an hour when the assailant, identified as former Bernie Sanders-campaigner James Thomas Hodgkinson of Belleville, Illinois, began firing. According to Capitol Hill police, Hodgkinson was armed with a 7.62 mm semi-automatic rifle and a 9 mm handgun.
Capitol Police officers, assigned to protect House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana, had been posted behind the first-base dugout. When Hodgkinson opened fire, two of the Capitol Police officers assigned to protect Scalise, David Bailey and Crystal Griner, rushed onto the field to protect the politicians. Bailey and Griner were both injured in the process. Griner was shot in the ankle and was later hospitalized in what was described as good condition. Bailey would be treated and released after sustaining a minor wound not caused by gunfire. A third Capitol Police officer, Henry Cabrera, took aim at the shooter from behind the first-base dugout, while the shooter ducked behind the third-base dugout. Witnesses estimated between 50 to 100 shots were fired during the 10-minute shootout before Hodgkinson was shot by a Capitol Police officer. Hodgkinson later died from his wounds
While the shooting was still going on, Rep. Mo Brooks used his belt as a tourniquet to help stop bleeding for a staffer who had been shot in the calf. After the shooting ended, Brooks and Rep. Brad Wenstrup — a podiatrist and combat surgeon who earned the Bronze Star Medal and Combat Action Badge for his service in Iraq — also helped the seriously wounded Scalise. Scalise was at second base when the shooting started and was shot in the hip. MedStar Washington Hospital Center later reported that after the bullet struck Scalise’s hip, it traveled across his pelvis, fracturing bones, injuring internal organs, and causing severe bleeding. As of the writing of this article, he has already undergone three surgeries.
Several witnesses said their lives were saved by the presence of the Capitol Police. The Capitol Police immediately engaged Hodgkinson and kept him pinned down, preventing him from continuing to fire on the unarmed baseball players. Rep. Davis and Sen. Rand Paul separately said that if the officers had not been present the incident “would have been a massacre.”
Thus, we tip our hats to the heroic efforts of the three above named Capitol Police officers as well as Congressmen Mo Brooks and Brad Wenstrup! Whereas one man (Hodgkinson) committed a hateful act of assault, it is encouraging to know that several men and a woman risked their lives by taking quick and brave actions to save the lives of others.
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For more information on the heroic police associated with this particular incident, please see this article. For other examples of heroic police officers, please see…
Whitlock, Chuck. Police Heroes: True Stories of Courage About America’s Brave Men, Women, and K-9 Officers. Thomas Dunne Books, 2002.