When Lexington native Charles Halloran arrived for his morning workout last Wednesday at a Virginia YMCA, he found an empty gym and people “down in this stairwell, with the lights off, hiding.”
“There’s a shooter! get down!” the others told Halloran, a former congressional staff member and graduate of Lexington’s Henry Clay High School and University of Louisville Law School.
About 75 feet away, there had been a shooting at a Republican practice for a charity baseball game, and several people, including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, were wounded.
One bullet had pierced the window of YMCA of Del Ray. The bullet had sailed across the building and ended up in the swimming pool. A second bullet was stopped by a pane of glass.
After YMCA officials confirmed that police and security officers had killed the shooter, they allowed people in the stairwell to move upstairs. Halloran, though, said he wasn’t allowed to leave the YMCA for about two hours, until it was certain that there weren’t other shooters.
Halloran, who works for a trade association, was interviewed Wednesday by reporters from NBC, CNN and the Wall Street Journal. During the lockdown, he took photographs showing the bullet damage at the YMCA and shared them with the Herald-Leader and other news organizations.
No one at the YMCA was injured, but people were shaking, Halloran said.
From the YMCA window, he could see the wounded being removed from the baseball field.
Scalise, from Louisiana, was upgraded from critical to serious condition Saturday and continued to show signs of improvement, The Associated Press reported.
Scalise was flown to a hospital in shock and with intense internal bleeding. His security detail and other police officers shot and killed the assailant, James Hodgkinson of Illinois, who had lashed out against President Donald Trump and other Republicans on social media, according to the AP.
Two Capitol police officers, David Bailey and Crystal Griner, and House GOP aide Zack Barth were shot and suffered relatively minor injuries. Doctors expect a full recovery for Tyson Foods lobbyist Matt Mika, who was shot multiple times and was critically wounded, the AP reported.
Halloran, a manager in Democrat Jack Conway’s U.S. Senate primary campaign in 2009, said he hopes the shooting leads to an improved bipartisan climate.
“It’s a horrible tragedy,” he said Monday, “but sometimes it takes something like that to get people thinking about working together again like we used to.”